From Richard


Good morning! Let’s read this together shall we?

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

John last week (in relation to the previous few verses said this):

In v8 Paul writes about his present experience of knowing Christ. But in v10 he implies that he does not yet fully know Christ. He longs to identify wholly with Christ in his death and resurrection….Quite simply, to know Christ better is to become more like him in his death and resurrection.

What do you think of your life as a Christian? Do you sometimes think your Christian life is like walking through thick treacle? Or maybe simply going backwards? Or maybe you can talk a good game but somehow there’s something missing.

Or do you remember that sketch many years ago with John Cleese (who is very tall), Ronnie Barker (medium height) and Ronnie Corbett (very short). And Ronnie Barker looked up at John Cleese and down at Ronnie Corbett. And maybe that is a bit like us. We look up at some Christians thinking: “I’m not as good a Christian as them” but then look down on others and say “but not as bad as them.”

I suspect we all do that in some way. But although there is much to be appreciative of in those wise Christians we look up to, and the wisdom they have….the mature Christian is someone who rather than comparing themselves with others, fixes their eyes on Jesus.

John really helpfully last week highlighted that Paul does not fully know Christ. And in our passage today we can see that Paul is not content to leave himself in that position but to press on. Why is this helpful? It is that it is the normal Christian experience to sense that whilst we may have come so far – in many ways with knowing Jesus, we have only scratched the surface. We can go so much further.

So if you feel that in some way your relationship with Jesus has been, or is incomplete; the mature response is to acknowledge this – and then press on into him. Don’t get miserable; get on!

So there is more to come.

So we press on to maturity….that is becoming more and more like him as we spend more time with him.

Just a last note – you will see that Paul mentions the one thing that he does: he forgets what is behind and strains toward what is ahead. Now all of us in our past – whether recent or not – have messed up. Now we, in a human sense, can say: “no point crying over spilt milk”. And so if from a human perspective we can say that: how much more can we say that with our Lord who can forgive and cleanse us from our past! So if in some way your past is coming along and knocking on your door and drawing your attention to you mess ups rather than the Lord now: then tell yourself to “forget what is in the past” or “no point crying over spilt milk” – and press on into Jesus.

So let’s be pressing on together


Category: Sermons , The Bridge , Thought for the week