Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14, (NKJV)
I once went on a training course that, at its core, had a similar thought to the Scripture above: forget the things that are past, move forward to new things! Perhaps, right now, this is a necessity for all of us. We need to move on from the trials and restrictions of the last 20 months and focus on new beginnings.
But Paul isn’t asking us to take on just any kind of new beginning; he encourages us to ‘…press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’ (v.14). As he later explains in Philippians: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:13). The forgetting of ‘things which are behind’ isn’t merely about letting go of a troubled past; he is encouraging us to take on an entirely new approach to life. We are to let Christ transform the way that we go about life.
The early followers of Jesus were clearly people who believed in new approaches to life. As the city of Antioch watched this movement grow and develop, they found that they needed to give them a new name – they decided to call them ‘Christians’ (Acts 11:26). This group wasn’t like other pagan religions, nor was it like the Jewish faith that it had sprung from. They were the group that went on and on about Christ! Take, for example, the book of Philippians, where Paul mentions Christ 38 times (NKJV).
But it wasn’t just talking about Jesus that set this group apart. They set out to follow him in deed as well as word – to have the same mind as Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5). As the Apostle Paul put it: ‘…having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit…let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.’ (Philippians 2:2-4).
Some charities and secular collectives can be like families. With a shared interest, the members look after one another. But Christians enjoy far more than that: God has set before us a new way of life, a transformed life that seeks to love in the same way that Jesus loves. So let’s put aside our old ways of doing things and press onward with the new life given us in Jesus Christ.
Holy Father, help us all through this choppy time of troubled waters. Show the world around us that we have all been given a new destiny in Jesus Christ. This new life is not just for today, but for eternity, where, in your presence, there are pleasures for evermore. We all need this transformed life. We ask this in your Son’s precious name, thank you Jesus. Amen.
Study by John Merchant
About the writer:
John Merchant attends the Nottingham congregation
of Grace Communion International.
Nottingham Grace Communion
Lucy Brown Hall
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