Philippians 3:13-14 ŌForgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.Ķ
ItÕs been about three weeks now since I got my new Apple computer. I love that it has a smaller footprint than my PC, that it doesnÕt take hours to boot up etc. But thereÕs one problem. My old PC is still on my desk. The snakepit of wires is still cluttering the desk and floor while my lovely new iMac teeters dangerously on a wobbly TV stand beside it. Since thereÕs barely enough room to turn around in my study anyway, one false move by the cat and weÕre all toast.
Why is my old PC still there, you ask? Well, suppose I discover that I canÕt do something I need to do on my new machine? Suppose thereÕs some bit of information IÕll need later that I missed when I transferred my data? Suppose the scanner wonÕt work with my Apple? You get the picture. Even though itÕs been about two weeks since IÕve turned the PC on, itÕs hard to actually do the deed and let the old ways go.
Paul is dealing with change that is even harder as he writes to the church in Philippi. He is letting go of his ideas about salvation, the ideas that he taught as a Pharisee and even persecuted others for opposing. And the question of salvation matters to him now. HeÕs writing from prison and knows the end of his life may well be approaching. He is giving up the notion that following a pile of rules and literally adhering to the laws of Scripture will get him any divine brownie points and is betting it all on the grace of God and the promise of resurrection.
Back in verse ten, Paul says, ŌI want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.Ķ When he says heÕs forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, thatÕs the context. What lies behind is earthly life as a Pharisee with its strict adherence to the law. What lies ahead is, quite literally, his death. But his experience of Jesus has been so incredible that heÕs ready to unplug the old system and take the plunge. Jesus went to death first and came out the other side. Paul canÕt quite be sure that the same will be true for him, even though heÕs been using the new system for some time. ŌÉif somehow I may attain the resurrection from the deadĶ he says. But heÕs willing to risk it. His eggs are going in the Jesus basketÉeven now, when itÕs all or nothing as the executioner awaits.
ThatÕs what faith is. ItÕs not completely blindÉPaul has been living as a Christian for a while. But neither is there any way to be certain what will await him until his death actually comes. Faith and knowledge are different things. If we know something beyond a shadow of a doubt, thatÕs not faith. Faith is replacing the old even before you are completely certain that the new thing will do what itÕs supposed to do. ItÕs not something we do lightly. But, once weÕve investigated all we can; once weÕve transferred all the files and tossed what doesnÕt apply; once weÕve used the system enough to see its benefits and realize how much more fulfilling it is, itÕs time to cut the cord to the old.
You have led the way, Jesus. Help us to follow without fear.
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