Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Philippians 3 - The Goal of Life

Link: Philippians 3


In this chapter, Paul encourages the Philippian Christians to . . .

1) Rejoice in the Lord

2) Have no confidence in the flesh

Righteousness could not be gained by works no matter what the false teachers said. The Judaizers were encouraging circumcision, but the "true circumcision" were those who loved and worshiped God from the heart rather than relying on external rituals. 

Also, human credentials cannot achieve righteousness. Paul had bragging rights based on his rich Jewish heritage, but he counted it all worthless. Knowing Christ and being found in Him was the only path to righteousness.

3) Press on to Know Jesus and Toward Maturity in Him

Paul knew Jesus, but his goal was to know him even more intimately. He wanted the closest possible relationship by knowing the power (dunamis) of His resurrection, the fellowship (koinonia, having something in common, sharing together in something, or sharing with someone) of His sufferings. This is exactly what God wanted Him to know (Acts 9:16). He wanted to become like Christ which is becoming mature!  He had not attained this (even though he had been a believer for 30 years by this time), but he kept pressing on toward it, not looking behind but forward. He sought to win the heavenly prize (1 Corinthians 9:25). 

4) Walk as a Citizen of Heaven

We can walk straight forward when we have our eternal home in mind! We will be like Him someday, so we need to fix our hope on that (1 John 3:2, 3). Also, we are to set our minds on the things above not on the things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2). 


I remember sitting with my ministry coworkers at a restaurant in Eugene in the early 80s. Being goal-oriented, eager 20-somethings, enthusiastic followers of, and laborers for Jesus, we were discussing our ministry goals. It was a "Where do you want to see yourself in 20 years?" kind of discussion. I cannot even remember what I said, but we were all talking about our hopes of people coming to Jesus and growing in Him, etc. You know, worthy goals. 

We had all shared except Jackie from Singapore. All eyes turned to her, and we asked her the question. In her quiet voice, she said, "I just want to know Jesus, and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to his death" (Philippians 3:10). We sat in silence (and a bit of awe) thinking. . . 

So simple. So profound.

Jackie was right. Knowing Jesus was all that really mattered.

A short time later, I ran across a T.S. Eliot quote defining the Christian Life:

A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything).” 
("Little Gidding No 4," of The Four Quartets)

Once again . . . 

So simple. So profound.

I memorized Philippians 3:10. I even had a friend calligraphy the T.S. Eliot quote for me. I had it on my wall for years. Wonder where that quote is now? It would help me to be reminded of this again and again. You would think more than 30 years later I would not need to be reminded, but I am a slow learner, making this journey with Jesus much more complicated than it needs to be.

I was struck again with the simplicity of it all when Micah led our Jesus Community into worship last Wednesday:

Knowing You Jesus
Graham Kendrick

All I once held dear, built my life upon,
All this world reveres and wars to own;
All I once thought gain I have counted loss,
Spent and worthless now compared to this.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness,
And I love You Lord.

Now my heart's desire is to know You more,
To be found in You and known as Yours,
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh to know the power of Your risen life,
And to know You in Your sufferings;
To become like You in Your death, my Lord,
So with You to live and never die.

This is an older song, and I was surprised that this 20-something even knew it, but it was a God thing. I have continued to sing it for the last week. Then I arrived at Philippians 3, and I knew why we sang it. Now, to really learn it!

. . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection
 and the fellowship of His sufferings, 
being conformed to His death;
Philippians 3:10


Let the song above lead you into worship and prayer today!
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