Eric Liddell –running for his country Scotland against France- pushed over at the first bend – hits the deck. What does he do sit and sulk, walk over to the race committee and complain/ protest, maybe run across the field and tackle the guy who pushed him over. Forgetting what has just happened- gets up & straining with all his might joins the race in hot pursuit of the pack- catches up to the back of the bunch- closes in on the leader. Takes the tape- wins the race!! He pursued the prize.
Paul using the concept of running a race- calling us to imitate him in pursuing Christ.
Contend with: distractions- more important; opposition ; temptation-to abandon; exhaustion
I, Paul - vs10-14 Mature Christian thinking.
Paul wants to know Christ- knowing Jesus is of surpassing value- nothing greater - there can be no greater prize to gain than full complete reality of knowing Christ- anything other than Christ is less for Paul. He knows Jesus, but it is not complete, not fully realised- there is so much more. To Win the prize- knowing Christ- “surpassing value” no greater prize- Christ fully known. No limitations.
Diligence, single minded pursuit, perseverance. Keep going. Things that help us pursue Christ:
Attitude to press on- never arrived, always looking to improve
Not yet arrived- mature understanding of Christian life- long way to go- never arrived, to keep pressing on, so much more to become. Mature think this way. Becoming casual, cruise mode, foot off the accelerator are not in Paul’s vocab for the Christian life.
I’m not perfect so I press on. If it was important for Paul, how much more so for us.
AW Tozer “to have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love.” Not to easily satisfied but burning heart to keep wanting more of God, I want to know Christ.
Seek renewal of our mind – so that our attitude is to keep on pursuing Christ, even when faith is under fire.
Pursuit of knowing Christ who has already taken hold of us
We pursue Christ having already been pursued by him- he has taken hold of us vs 12. Our Pursuit in response to his grace and work in lives. Open our eyes to see his glory. Running because we are already secure, belonging to Christ, held by Christ, called by God.
Vs 16 What we have already attained- righteousness. Citizenship in heaven.
Not Stuck in the past
Cringe at past actions, erase it from ever happening. Can get stalled/ stuck; inhibits the pursuit
Sin / Moral failure / Guilt / foolish way used to live/ got it so wrong.
b. Ministry flops/ failures k-zone lesson went bad- sermon didn’t hit the mark
We’re not perfect, but we can wallow in our past felt the - we stalled in our walk – too focused on our performance, when God called us to press on.
But “forgetting what is behind”
Paul once pursued Christians to persecute them!!- forgetting what is behind, I press on.
Foolishness and sinfulness of relying on his credentials- confidence in his own effort. Forget and press on.
We can make some foolish mistakes, we can have regrets and cringe – need to press on.
We don’t need to forgive ourselves, we need to live out God’s forgiveness of us.
My sin not in part but the whole, is nailed to His cross and I bear it no more.
When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within- upward I look and see Him there who made an end of all my sin.
Mature Christian examples - to imitate
We are disciples of Jesus Christ- that is disciples of one who carried his cross- was obedient to death even death on a cross- for our sake, and his disciples are to carry their cross- Live for Christ even when the hits come, when the heat comes on for being a follower of Jesus.
That is Paul’s pattern of life –followed the pattern of Jesus. Paul was beaten, imprisoned, stones thrown at him, plots against his life- frequent because he continued to live for Christ… the sufferings did not deter him…he pressed on carrying his cross.
So when Paul says imitate me- it’s not so much about reading our bible and going to church- Paul is calling disciples of Jesus Christ to specifically follow Paul’s example of sharing in the sufferings of Christ vs 10- echoes Jesus words- carry your cross and follow me.
“Live as we do…”
Take note – keep an eye on- of others who are living that same pattern of life. Epaphroditus- risking his life- almost died in serving Christ. Challenge us, correct us, inspire us, model for us what it means to live carrying the cross.
Isolated Christian can’t do this. The disciple of Jesus who says “I don’t need Christian community to live as a Christian…” is immature and short-sighted. Take notes, keep your eye on them.
Because Paul knows of many, who live not carrying the cross, but live as enemies of the cross.
“many live as enemies of the cross of Christ”
This is a frequent concern for Paul- often warned them and now again- Paul broken record- must be perennial problem.
SUBTLE rather than obvious- they don’t go around wearing T shirts saying Jesus is a loser. These can sound Christian, use Christian terms, their end is destruction- not true believers.
Their way of living is self-centred, self-focused... their mind is set on stuff- simple every day material things are chief concern. Contrast to vs 15- Paul’s mature mind pursues Christ.
Christ is not first and foremost, they will not carry their cross- in the face of opposition they compromise to be accepted. They conform to the world way of living when under.
We must be careful we’re not smug. What are our blind spots? In what ways is our still focused on earthly things.
So no place for complacency. Paul calling us to imitate him- one continues to carry his cross as he pursues Christ. This is the Christian way to live. We have attained citizenship in heaven- live like the One who gave it to us. “Let us live up to what we have attained.”