the absence of presumption

Peter Bruegel the Elder, “Procession to Calvary”

fifth Sunday in Lent (Sunday 3/25)
Philippians 3:4-14

We evangelicals, especially those of us of the megachurch ilk, can be smug. We gather faithfully on Sundays confident in both our standing before God and our value to our communities. We are in danger of presuming that God’s favor will remain upon us (or even is upon us!).

Not so the Apostle Paul. Read this passage and one thing that may strike you is a complete absence of presumption concerning his own standing before God. He says:

  • “and so, somehow, to attain the resurrection from the dead” (v. 11)
  • “Not that I have already obtained this” (v. 12)
  • “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it” (v. 13)

How can this be? Didn’t Paul get the memo on the difference between justification and sanctification? Or is the real problem that we have boxed up our theology a little too simply and a little too neatly?

Paul himself might say this to us: “You understand that righteousness comes only through faith in Christ and by faith in Christ. This is good. Yet understand now that any true righteousness that has come will continually be working itself out in your life in a progressively clearer understanding of your own calling, both individually and collectively.”

As Paul did, let us strain ahead, pressing on toward the goal of the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus. Do you have a sense of what your personal calling is? If not, ask a friend to help you discern it. If so, what would you most like to do to pursue your calling this week?

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