March 25, 2022
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 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. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:10-14

You gotta hand it to Paul – he is nothing, if not passionate.

And faithful – considering he most likely wrote these words from inside a jail cell. 

In good and in bad, Paul finds a way to keep his eye on the goal. For him, the goal is to know Christ. 
Now, this passage doesn’t read like a superficial kind of knowing. He wanted to know deep in his bones the power of transformation. The power of a new life, of healing, of hope, of a better way of being in the world. He wants to know the power of being able to move beyond so many of his own human short-comings. He wanted to see the power of Christ that makes possible justice, peace, and selflessness.
And while this may sound a little counterintuitive to us, he was learning that this type of transformation comes only when he is willing to submit to the reality of error, setbacks, and pain. 

It is counter intuitive to us because we are taught to spend so much of our time avoiding these things. We avoid them because we are taught that they make us less than. They make us small. They make us insufficient.

And so, we pretend to be perfect.
We hide our errors. 
We become discouraged by our setbacks.
We drown in our own pain.

Because we don’t like who we are. And we think others won’t like who we are.

But what we sometimes forget is that we can only experience the saving grace of God – the type that actually transforms us from the inside out – when we are willing to admit that we need some saving. 

If you are craving new life today… if you are yearning to move beyond your own mistakes… if you are weighed down by the world and looking for justice, peace, and the love of God… the first step… as odd as it sounds, is to acknowledge and even embrace who you really are. 

To truly know Christ, and his saving work in our lives – we must be willing to look at ourselves honestly. 

Now, that doesn’t mean we have to fully like what we see. 
But it does mean extending enough kindness to yourself to name the reality of your imperfections for what they are, remembering that the grace of God not only wants to do a new work in you – but already loves you as you are. We are invited to embrace ourselves as we are – because God did it first.

Even if we have to ask God for forgiveness and to do a new work in us 100 times… or 100 x 100 times before we ever see change, Paul reminds us that we are called to keep pressing toward the goal. To keep acknowledging our own humanity and asking for God’s grace, so that we might actually come to experience transformation for ourselves.

Pastor Kate