My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I have already reached the goal, or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:10-12
I re-read these verses this week, and they deflated me at first. I realized that of all my goals—those I’ve stated out loud and those I’ve hidden in my heart—the goal of knowing Christ, knowing the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, well, it wasn’t my primary goal anymore.
Somewhere, my goals had shifted to more tangible things. I didn’t even realize it had happened.
I started to beat myself up about that, until I read a little further here. Paul himself, the great apostle, author of much of the New Testament, says of himself that while knowing Christ was his goal, he hadn’t reached it yet.
Paul—the Paul—hadn’t obtained this ideal. Somehow it was comforting to remember that Paul was human, too.
But he did, at least, have the right goal. And that’s what I need to change. I, like Paul, may still be at midfield with my soccer ball, but my eyes must not slip to the stands or the hot-dog vendor on the sidelines. My eyes must stay on that net.
I need an internal shift, so that my goal is truly knowing Christ. To know the power of His resurrection and to know the fellowship of His suffering—what does it look like in modern America?
It doesn’t look like most modern Americans. Actually, I’m pretty sure it looks different than most people throughout history.
Jesus told his followers, “You cannot serve two masters. You will hate one of them and love the other.” He was speaking specifically about money, but the principle applies pretty much universally.
I cannot serve the master of selfish ambition and at the same time pursue Christ. I cannot chase the goal of comfort and at the same time take up my cross and follow Jesus. I can’t somehow make myself stand out for the sake of popularity and at the same time be a servant of Christ. These things have different masters, and I can’t serve them all.
To the church of Ephesus there was inscribed this charge: “You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Perhaps we could say it like this, “You have shifted your eyes to the wrong goal. It was, at first, a pure love, an honest desire for Me. Now it is for popularity, for success, for admiration, and for the blessings that I give rather than for Me.”
They looked godly—especially when compared to the rest. But there was a heart issue, and God knew it. He knows my heart, too, and let me confess, there are issues.
So, we have a new goal: to know Christ. What will we learn this week?