Day 199, October 4, 2020 – World Communion Sunday
The assigned Scripture readings for this the 18th Sunday after Pentecost are: Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20; Psalm 19; Philippians 3:4b-14 and Matthew 21:33-46.
I am sharing the Philippians passage from The Message for your reflection.
“4b You know my pedigree:
5 a legitimate birth, circumcised on the eighth day; an Israelite from the elite tribe of Benjamin; a strict and devout adherent to God's law;
6 a fiery defender of the purity of my religion, even to the point of persecuting Christians; a meticulous observer of everything set down in God's law Book.
7 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I'm tearing up and throwing out with the trash - along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ.
8 Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant - dog dung. I've dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ
9 and be embraced by him. I didn't want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ - God's righteousness.
10 I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself.
11 If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.
12 I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.
13 Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward - to Jesus.
14 I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.”
Here is testimony of Paul that even though he has a heritage of assets, the righteousness he now has is not from his own strength but from faith in Jesus Christ. “Resurrection hope rests not on our efforts but on the power of Christ our Savior. Because Christ has first taken hold of him, Paul presses forward with single-minded devotion to take hold of the prize that awaits him at the finish line, perfect fellowship with Christ.”
I believe that what is important in these verses for all of us, is to keep pressing on toward the goal. One of my favorite sayings is that I am a Christian in the process of becoming. In this life I do not expect to have my faith completed and all wrapped up in a nice, neat package. I must always be reaching for the goal – continually growing so that I will be made perfect in the next life.
“Holiness of Heart and Life – Maturity in Faith”
“Christian maturity involves fulfilling the purpose for our existence, namely, to gain Christ, to know Christ, to be found in Christ, and to become like Christ in his death (3:7-15). Sometimes translated “perfection,” this maturity is not so much a destination as the journey toward the destination. We are mature in that we are launched on the journey, but we always have further to go. Thus, Paul can talk about not having reached the goal (3:12) and straining forward toward what is ahead (3:13), while at the same time affirming maturity in faith (3:15).” Contemporary English Bible, Wesley Study Bible page 1497.
Lord, help us to continue reaching for the Goal. Keep us on the journey. Let us not turn back. Lord, hear our prayers. Amen.