Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 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. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
Philippians 3:12-15 NKJV
We are being prepared for our final destination today. We are either serving the one master who makes us more like Christ, producing love through a grateful, faithful, repentant life of service and self control. Or we are serving that great enemy of self that is driven by pride and vanity and jealousy and haughtiness and isolation because we are blind to and unbelieving about things eternal. Or we are serving evil, knowing that what we are doing is wrong, but still letting our lives be a stumbling block to others and an enticement to serve the purposes of ac rebellion against the way that is best and most abundant for all.
Yes, the problem isn’t always that we don’t realize the need to change, the need to be a good example for others, the need to offer help to others in need – the problem sometimes is that we just don’t care about anyone enough to make a change, to entertain the concept of stepping out of our comfort and complacency and idleness into a place of personal sacrifice, self control, and trust in the Lord in the midst of a life of trials, tribulation, and suffering.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NKJV
People will say, but God wants me to be happy and protected and safe and prosperous “right now”. And I tell you that God is more focused on your eternity than this short breath of a life that is like the blink of an eye. Yes, He lives you and will help you “right now” in the troubles you are facing, but it will be from the eternal mindset and purpose that is His – not the immediate and urgent and anxious mindset that the world has taught us to trust in. The world tells us to only trust in what we can see and touch today, right now. While God tells us to have Hope and Faith in things unseen that are not yet ours.
And when we start understanding and believing God for eternal purposes – when we start receiving revelations of the blessings eternal, those things that nourish our soul, those things that feed and heal and help those around us – those temptations, and false idols in our lives, and those things like earthly riches and wealth and comfort and security and trust in our own strengths and abilities are revealed as poisonous traps for the short sighted and blind.
Being blind to eternity is like the difference between getting a high interest loan for one night of wild partying that saddles you with debt you can never pay back and will leave behind for your family after you are gone – versus living reasonably within your means so that you can avoid unnecessary anxieties, so that you can help others around you while you are hear, and so that you can leave an inheritance for your family to help them after you are gone. But we are not just talking about money and comfort on earth for ourselves and our families – we are talking about our eternal souls.
You see, once we understand and believe in the Word of God, once we believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ in our hearts, and aren’t just flirting with the idea and concept of Jesus Christ in our minds – once we make Him Lord of our lives instead of just claiming His name as our Savior – or while perspective changes from this life to eternity.
And when our perspective changes, it changes our priorities as well. Loving and serving God with our WHOLE life becomes our WHOLE priority – not just one thing in a list of priorities. And having this priority places us into His Kingdom service now, because we are His body, His church, His hands and feet, His voice, sent to pour out His love and blessings into the lives of others so they might find and know Him and come to understand this new perspective and these new priorities.
We do not “invite Him into our lives” so that He can help us accomplish our own selfish “right now” desires. He comes when we seek Him and He abides in us and changes us to desire His will, to be eternity focused, to turn away from the trappings of this world, to be Kingdom minded, faithful servants of a righteous, holy, perfect God who says “Go and sin no more” and who also says “if you do sin, you have an advocate”.
But if we know and love Him, “Go and sin no more” is our plan A and we have no intention of using testing that safety net, even if we are glad that it is there. If falling into the safety net is our Plan A, we must ask ourselves if we are really focused on walking that thin, narrow path to its final destination, or do we just enjoy the experience of going up the ladder a bit so we can fall? I don’t want to see people going down into the pit, but I know that He says few will find the narrow gate and walk the narrow path that leads to eternal life. Few will live in the perspective that they are paying on towards their eventual goal of eternity, of salvation. Few will live with their priority being God’s will and His Kingdom work playing out in their lives.
Many will be be satisfied with an empty and powerless concept of Jesus that offers them a “someday redeemable ticket to heaven redeemable after death” – they will deceive themselves with a combination of “once saved, always saved” and “I’m just a sinner” and “only God can judge me” that is not the gospel of Jesus Christ, that is not following the way, the truth, the life – but that is the broad way that leads to destruction.
Yes, we are meant to die to Christ and walk as His follower, as His disciple, as messengers, ambassadors, as a royal priesthood TODAY. And we do this because we are a new creation, with new desires and perspective and priorities. And we do this so that He might use us for His work, for His purposes TODAY, that can have eternal implications for the lives of those around us – that they might recognize Christ in us – that our testimony and our love and our service might be just what God uses to usher them back into the fold. Because at some point, a Christ minded person’s perspective has moved past self to a place of serving and loving Godc and others, willing to sacrifice “right now” knowing that eyebrows is so much more important.
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it? ” So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:25-37 NKJV