Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"From Where We Are"

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended" (Philippians 3:13).

The Apostle Paul wrote these words well into his Christian life and ministry. He would write many other words of Scripture, at least thirteen books of the New Testament. He would establish untold numbers of early churches on the blank slate, as it were, of a culture that knew nothing of the Lord Jesus Christ. He would plant the Christian faith in the Gentile world of his day, paving the inroads it would make over twenty centuries on every continent and in every nation. And he would become the most respected believer who ever lived after experiencing much suspicion, distrust and rejection by even devout Christians during his earthly sojourn.

Paul nevertheless confessed that he had not truly laid hold of the Lord Jesus. By this, he didn't mean he didn't know his Savior, or that he didn't have rich and vibrant experience of the living Christ in both personal terms and in shared fellowship with others. The Apostle simply acknowledged what every believer feels, namely a sense of awareness and perhaps even of frustration that to whatever degree we know our Lord, there's so much more of Him we could have known, and so much more to know. God's infinite nature and being unite with our limitations, both self-imposed and involuntary, in bringing us to such places of honest acknowledgement. How much further down the road of knowing and responding to God would we like to be, or could be. But we are where we are, and thankfully, Paul provides the roadmap from which the rest of our journey begins...

"This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

We can only begin from where we are. And we can begin from where we are. The grace and mercy of God in Christ offers a point of origination from the spot on which we are presently standing. Whatever the spiritual successes and failures of our past may have been, we go forth from where we are, as did Paul. That is, we trust God for the forgiveness so cleansing that He promises, " I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" (Hebrews 12:8). We remember also that the good times, the moments of faithfulness, were the products of God's leading and enabling, and thus for His glory. So we give thanks and realize that we have no laurels upon which to rest.

The past may have led us to this place, to this spot on which we stand. But it does not determine where we go from here. The choice of this moment to love, trust and obey God in the power of His indwelling Spirit determines that. Yes, our brother of long ago blazed a trail for us, a trail of forgetting, of reaching forth, and of pressing toward the mark and the prize that beckons us. By the grace of God, Paul began from where he was. By the same grace, let us begin from where we are.

"Arise, let us go hence."
(John 14:31)

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