A Line, Not a Circle
I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Philippians 3:2)
The Christian life is not futile. It does not follow the pattern of the circle. The image of the Christian life is a line. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. There is an end goal of glory. The God who started all things in the beginning had a goal for his people. We reach ahead for the day when we hear Christ say, “ Come, my beloved, enter the kingdom which My Father has prepared for you.”
With the apostle Paul we say, “Forgetting what lies behind me and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3: 13-14) In the Christian life there is an upward call. One does not move upward in a circle. We are on a line that is going somewhere. It is moving forward. In a word, there is progress to the Christian life.
All Christians make progress. Progress is made certain by the indwelling Holy Spirit who refuses to allow us to stand still. Oh, we try to stand still. We even regress. Like the disciples, we hide in our upper rooms, huddled in fear. But Jesus will not allow us to stay there.
The Lord is intensely interested in our welfare and our maturing. He wants us to learn more and more about God and how to please God. He wants us to find joy in pleasing God. He wants us to change, like the healed blind man, so that our vision clears, so that we grow in how we perceive the world and how we act in it. Growth and change in such perception means learning more and more about what pleases the Holy God. The growth in pleasing God is sanctification.
Our new birth to become a Christian follows much the same pattern as our natural birth. In both cases, we become what we have never been before. Like the natural born child, the new born Christian requires a lot of care. The natural born child doesn’t know how to feed himself and the new born Christian must be given the Word of God in easy to swallow portions. The natural child must learn how to communicate and they usually do so by making an intelligible noise and then as they grow they begin to communicate with words and sentences and paragraphs. The spiritual child has the same need. They do not know how to communicate with God so they begin with simple broken expressions of the heart and then grow into full blown communication. Spiritual communication is commonly known as prayer and every new Christian must grow in their praying ability in the same way as the natural child grows in their verbal communication skills. The natural child cannot walk so they first scoot and then crawl and then walk. They fall down frequently but continue try as they receive great encouragement from parents. In the same way new believers cannot walk on their own, they fall down frequently but should some mature Christian become their spiritual parent and provides the proper encouragement and teaching, eventually they can walk on their own.
We can never live as though we are fully complete and arrived at the end goal. This only occurs when we get to heaven. Until that day we move upward and forward toward the goal of becoming like Christ. So as the natural child moves from helpless immaturity to hopeful maturity so the spiritual child grows into the image of his Creator. Once you invite Christ into your heart and the Holy Spirit takes up resident you progress everyday toward the goal of being Christlike. However, if you invite the Holy Spirit to become president instead of just a resident, He will move you toward that goal even on those days when you don’t feel like moving forward toward Christ. He will turn you around when you have those moments of wanting to go back. He will encourage you and give you His strength when you are weak and discouraged. So what’s the prize that Paul talks about?
“See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory]. And everyone who has this hope [confidently placed] in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (holy, undefiled, guiltless).”
1 John 3:1-3
That’s our goal. “We SHALL be like Him! So let’s grow and move upward and forward.