Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. -- Philippians 3:12
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
It took me a long, long time to grasp what this means. I tried and tried to be a better person in order to be acceptable to other people. I pictured, I guess, the standard others had for me – that I ought to be able to do anything and everything, perfectly. Anything less meant that I was a failure. Eventually I accepted the fact that I was a miserable failure, and I was never going to be anything else. To deal with this, for a time, I resorted to self-medication. That was pretty destructive, and, being the relatively common-sense person I am, I knew I could not continue in that path.
Becoming a Christian didn’t help a whole lot, except it did give me hope that I could improve, that God would be able to transform my life to the point that I was Christ-like. The people around me in church kept telling me about their transformations. Men and women would get up and tell how God had delivered them and made them better. I certainly acted better, but I knew I wasn’t better. I could pass because other people couldn’t read my thoughts. Too, I began to notice that a lot of these transformed church-goers still had serious problems of one kind or another.
I am from Missouri and learned early on to believe half of what I see and none of what I hear. I am, both by nature and nurture, skeptical and cynical – when it comes to me and to other people. Cynicism is simply wisdom with regard to endeavors like politics, economics, history, and science. The truth, though, was there in Christianity. I could see it in the Word, even if that sometimes got torqued more than a little bit by the human tools that handled it.
We have not obtained it all. We are not already perfect. I do think some people get pretty close in this life. I have met those who allowed me to lay aside my shield of cynicism in this arena and replace it with the shield of faith. Most of us, certainly, will still be pushing for the goal the day this mortal body is surrendered.
Paul gives us the secret here. Christ Jesus does not make me His own because I am perfected or even because I am striving for perfection. I am pressing on because I know I belong to Him.