Monday, March 28, 2011

Pressing On

I realized this weekend it’s been two full weeks since I last posted to my blog. I was quite surprised it had been so long, but here we are. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write or haven’t tried to write or haven’t been thinking about anything worth writing about in those two weeks, but nothing ever made it to the blog. Some did make it to my journal (the spiral bound paper and pen one), and some will just stay there in that private place of reflection and hashing out of thoughts. That is probably not a bad thing.

One kind of silly thing I’ve been doing is that I have been enjoying reading the book series The 39 Clues with my boys during the past few weeks, and trying to get ahead of them in the series so they will quit letting out spoilers, which has occupied not a small amount of time, I have to confess. My oldest boy does not seem to understand just how serious I am about how much I dislike having a story spoiled with plot reveals while I’m still reading along. He’s the kind of kid who will read all about a book on Wikipedia and skip to the last page and read the sum-up companion book at the end of the series because he just has to know. And no matter how often I threaten to quiet him with a well-placed piece of duct tape, he still keeps letting little, and sometimes really big plot twists out. Most of the fun of reading for me is to see if my guesses and theories are right and being surprised along the way. I finally caught up to my son and stole the book he was reading for a day and have now moved ahead in the search for the 39 clues. Equilibrium in the family is restored. :-)

And there are other ebbs and flows of a normal life, some good, some that have made me sad, and some that are kind of neutral but which all occupy a lot of thinking or energy but are not the kinds of things that need to be out here on the blog, and this is how it should be. Blogging is a good hobby, but it needs to stay a hobby and not interfere with the real stuff of every day life. Not only have I sort of involuntarily slowed down with blogging, but I am purposely cutting back on Facebook time this week. That particular little hobby has become much too much of a temptation to waste time, and it’s far more addictive than I really care to admit, so I’m trying to really limit time there this week in an attempt to be a better steward of my time.

And none of that is actually what I sat down to write about this afternoon while I had a few moments.

What I actually meant to write about was the passage in Philippians that I spent last week memorizing and part of this week’s work which I’ll type out here:

Philippians 3:7-16

7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith -

10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Before I took my unplanned blogging break, I was following the blog buzz over two controversial books that have become popular/notorious in the Christian world. It isn’t my purpose to discuss either of those books, and I’ve read enough about them to know I really don’t want to read them. I don’t need any help in adding confusing voices to my thinking. But as I read the discussions I have been examining my thinking and heart in recent days, and I am ever more aware of just how often my thinking has been shaped more by my culture and by the Christian subculture than it has by the Bible at times. I find it sad that some of what I’ve imbibed in the Christian subculture isn’t actually Christian, meaning, it is more man’s wisdom and humanistic psychology than biblical wisdom, and I am finding that I need to constantly be on guard to run any idea or way of thinking through the grid of scripture and examine myself to be sure that the opinions I’m holding are godly and biblical and to learn to shed those that are not. In fact, there are times I find it necessary to step out of blog world and examine myself because I do not want to be immature in my thinking and faith, but want to be ever growing toward maturity and biblical thinking. More on this in a future post, I hope, but I am extremely grateful that the reason I persevere in faith is because it is Christ who is holding me firm. It is not because I am so good, it is because He is so good and faithful that I am still holding firm.

In reading the discussions on those books, I see once again and clearly how important it is to know the Bible and to be committed to the understanding that no matter how interesting an idea may sound to our ears, the Bible is the authority for how we are to think about God. He has revealed Himself to us. We don’t have the right to approach Him just any old (or new) way we think is right, but we must be about the business of knowing Him and believing about Him what is true.

I have also found that any time I start to get puffed up or prideful, thinking I have all my theological ducks in a row, I discover some immature or wayward thing in me or I do something really stupid or sinful that proves that I have not yet attained it, and I confess that sometimes I get downright depressed to find such shallow and selfish thinking still holding sway over me, but I do press on.

And now, finally, I get to the point. In thinking on these verses over the past couple of weeks, I find that I really long to have this mind - that I count all things as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. He really is the something better that we long for. The Christian subculture is not what I long for. What I long for is Jesus. To be found in Him, not having a false kind of outward righteousness that can spout out Sunday school answers or sound really good or 'spiritual' to anyone listening but has a cold heart, but to really know Him. The only righteousness that is true righteousness is that which comes from God and depends solely on faith in Christ. This is the satisfaction for the hunger and thirst of a soul that finds itself weary in doing what I don’t want to do and not doing what I long to do.

And the only reason I can press on to make it my own is because Jesus has made me His own. I found I couldn’t say that for the first few days last week as I was working to memorize the verses without stopping to marvel at that glorious and extremely humbling thought. He has made me His own. This is the hope of righteousness! This is hope eternal! He is Lord and He has made me His own and He will complete what He has begun in me. Though I may not have yet completely made it my own, He has made me His own, and because He has, I can press on, I can shed those weights that entangle and run the race because He is Lord, and He is worthy of all praise. He has made me His own and freed me to do what is right and believe what is right because of the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ alone. He has freed me to really obey, He has made me righteous in Christ Jesus and for His glory. It is God who works in me to will and to work for His good pleasure, and He will do it. Because this is true, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, and I hold true to what I have attained in Him. And I find it extremely encouraging that God will reveal to me where my thinking needs to change and to become more mature.

I said it before and I’m saying it again, memorizing scripture is becoming a truly wonderful thing for me. I love that it is causing me to think on these things and to make them my own. Rather than a discipline to follow, it is becoming a joy, and I am so glad I was encouraged to do it. There’s so much more I could share just from thinking on this one passage, but this post is long enough as it is.

**Update: After I posted this I read this blog post, and I found it very encouraging, so I thought I'd share it.

1 comment:

P. Atkins said...

You have posted a very interesting article. Keep it up!

Good Books To Read.