This week we are looking at Philippians chapter 3, and the joy that comes from submitting to Christ. It is not possible for anyone to claim to be a disciple, a follower of Jesus, without submitting to his Lordship. That submission is not always easy, but it is something that we have got to be willing to work on tirelessly, giving all things to him who gave all for us.
“Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Philippians 3:12 NRSV)
Paul states clearly here that he does not consider himself to have reached his goal of full submission. That is to know Christ, to be like Christ, and to be all Christ has in mind for him. Pressing on, not letting go, never giving up; this is the duty of all those who profess Christ as Lord. I think to say the words “I know Jesus” is actually a commitment to getting to know him more because, in itself, these words mean that we are in relationship with him and that we are wanting to better represent him in and through our lives.
There is so much joy in entering into that relationship and this joy can be expressed in many different ways. But the feeling of happiness and excitement can sometimes be misunderstood as being the joy that is known in knowing Christ. When the going gets tough how do you react? There are two main reactions that are spoken of – either fight or flight!
The Joy which we have, as Christians, is one which enables us to stay and fight for that goal and press on toward the prize for which Christ has called us.
We are saved by grace, through faith, which is a gift from God. The work that we are called to do is in response to this and not to guarantee this. In the previous chapter Paul spoke of working out our salvation in fear and trembling (v12), which is a call to church unity, to being steadfast in faith, and keeping to the Gospel truth which had been previously preached.
Pressing on, running the race, working out salvation, all point to the journey that we, as disciples of Christ, are on. Jesus is Lord! That’s an all-in statement. Yes we are only human, and we have our insecurities, and our frailness – but we have got to want to call him Lord in all areas of our lives. We have got to want to get to know him, be more like him, and live into what he is calling us to. Not doing this is akin to flight. Committing to do this is in line with fight!