Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pressing On The Upward Way

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. -- Philippians 3:14

With the surrounding couple of verses, this passage describes life as a race in which the runner stretches toward the finish line, or the goal.  We have realized we are not what we should be, what we can be in Christ:   I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own (v.12).  Our motivation is really nothing except the love of God.  He wants us to be His children, His heirs. 

Christ is before us, calling to us by the Spirit.  Interesting is that phrase “of the upward call”, a very good rendering of the Greek, I am told.  It can be taken to mean that God is “moving the goal posts”, but I think it is more like Jesus is “setting the pace” and, at the same time, being our trainer, encouraging and inspiring us to keep going.  We are not going to reach the finish line – not in this life.  I would think we are never perfected, but off in those distant uplands Lewis’ narrator spoke of in The Great Divorce there is the unimaginable. 

To run effectively, one must forget what lies behind (v.13).  This means not only the sins and pains and failures of our lives outside of Christ, but all that we have achieved or seem to have achieved as Christians.  All the maturity and wisdom to which we might lay claim and of which we might boast must be cast aside.  No runner ever won a race because he set a world record in his previous outing.  No baseball team ever won today’s game with yesterday’s hits.  In this, the Christian may echo the SEALs – the easy day was yesterday. 

It’s a difficult thing to balance, to be always content yet never complacent – always satisfied but always ready for a new challenge.  We glory in and testify of what the Lord has done for us, but rehearsing past victories He has given us tells us that He will not leave us or forsake us in the trial we face today. 

This we may know with certainty:  we are being fitted for heaven.  And the fitter we become, the farther and faster we may strive toward Christ.  

There was a very nice lady that attended the same little church we did back in the '80s.  It was the custom, especially in the Sunday evening service, to have a few "specials".  The lady had a reasonably good voice, as I recall, and she would sing every few weeks.  It became almost a joke between my wife and I because about every other time it seemed she sang "Higher Ground".  Not a bad choice at all:

I'm pressing on the upward way
New heights I'm gaining every day
Still praying as I onward bound
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

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