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Monday, June 04, 2007

that for which I was laid hold of...

On Philippians 4:1-9...

Last Sunday we talked about the ultimate significance of knowing Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:12-29). It’s of crucial importance because only Jesus is truly right with God (or ‘righteous’), and our rightness with God only comes through being with Jesus. We talked about how Jesus says of those who know him, “He’s with me… she’s with me,” and he draws us into the life of God – Father, Son, and Spirit.

That truth is the source of our hope for resurrection and life forever with God. And in this week’s text, Paul is building on that teaching to encourage us about how that truth impacts our daily life in this world. Paul uses several illustrations to talk about the whole thing. He compares our life in this world to a race, a walk, and to citizenship – and the key verse is the second part of verse 12:

…I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

Jesus laying hold of us is that “He’s with me; she’s with me.” The purpose of Jesus laying hold of us is to draw us into life forever with God. Our experience of that life with God, in the here-and-now and into eternity, is what Paul means by us “laying hold” – it’s our experiencing God’s purpose for us in Jesus.

Said another way, God’s desire is for us to be right with Him, to experience Him personally, to enjoy Him and relate to Him, and reflect His love for us back to Him and to each other. In today’s text, Paul is describing how we can live into and experience this desire and purpose of God in our lives. It involves focus, persistence, and a vision of our future – much like a race. And that’s how Paul begins describing this Christian life to us.

...for the whole thing -

Paul concludes this text with a third analogy, and my illustration from last week doesn’t go far enough. We are not just strangers who temporarily get to come over and play in God’s house; because we are with Jesus, God adopts us into His family and welcomes us into His Heaven. Set in Kingdom-language, we are naturalized as Heavenly citizens. Again, this is all because Jesus is the one who is right with God the Father and he has claimed those who trust in him, saying, “He’s with me; she’s with me.”

In the citizenship analogy, there is no sneaking across the border of Heaven or scaling the fence. There is only one way in, and it is with Jesus Christ vouching for us.

Paul goes even further, to explain that Jesus not only vouches for us (makes us qualify), but makes us ready for Heaven. It is he who “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.” It is “by the exertion of [his] power”. This is what Jesus does in our life as we walk in lock-step with him, as we press on to lay hold of that for which he laid hold of us.

To step out of the realm of analogy, here’s what Paul is saying in all this today. Jesus died on the cross, in obedience to and sharing in the Father's love for the world, so that he could present you to God with his own ‘rightness’ and secure a home and a relationship with God for you both now and forever. And he is preparing you and me for that future as we live each day in submission to him.

In the end, there are only two people – enemies of the cross of Christ and friends of the cross of Christ. Come, believe, and follow Jesus, for he died on that cross that you might be a friend of God and an adopted child of God.

Don’t look back; press on ahead. God would draw you close into His presence because of Jesus’ love for you. Don’t substitute self or settle for the stuff of this world. God has better and more for you than that.

1 comment:

regressivepresby said...

I linked this post to my most recent posting on 137, as an example of our triune God of grace. I trust thats ok.

Appreciate your friendship in the journey...
grace & peace

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