Monday, September 29, 2008

Pressing On....

One way St. Paul expresses his own heart for God is through some of his words to the Philippians: I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus (3:14). In the previous verses he essentially says he is not looking back, something Jesus warned his followers not to do (Luke 9:62).

Sometimes even looking around becomes a trap for looking back. The real problem with “looking back” is an attitude that often motivates it, which in essence “un-does” our repentance. If repentance is “turning around” from a path that leads to destruction, then for a Christian — whose life is rooted in repentance — to “look back” is to open one’s self to the mind-set of the Hebrews in the desert who wanted to go back to Egypt or to align one’s self with Lot’s wife. When we allow our hearts to “look around” as if this present world has the things that satisfy or give security, we are flirting with a distraction that can lead to disobedience — a disobedience which displaces the preeminence meant for God.

What we find in Paul is the model of one who understood that the way not to look back is to keep looking ahead. Paul’s conversion so altered his life that not only did he turn away from the things in which he previously sought meaning and purpose, but he turned in such a way that the one love of his life was the Savior and Lord who had rescued him from a dying world. And so he tells the Philippians (a few verses earlier): I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (3:8).

We live in a world that beckons us to a mesmerizing look at all the many things it says is valuable. Advertisers pay big bucks for both research into the human psyche and commercial space to seduce us. Something in our broken nature entices us to look back and play the “what if” game, as if we could go back and re-program our lives. Paul is not looking back. He is looking ahead. He is pressing on, and his message — especially in this Year of Saint Paul — is for us to follow him as he follows Christ.

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