Week 27

Pressing On

Today’s scripture selection: Philippians 3-4

Key verse: Philippians 3:14

     Over the years I have heard the apostle Paul described in many ways: faithful; dedicated; eloquent.  I’ve also heard him described in less than glowing ways: harsh; un-yielding; judgmental.

     But one word that comes to mind for me when I read this passage from Philippians is: driven.

     “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

     When he said that, he had just finished saying how all his prior accomplishments in life were “garbage” compared to his opportunity – through God’s grace – to “gain Christ.”

     That’s a lot of theological talk that raises some significant questions.  What does he mean by, “press on” or to “gain” Christ?

     But I like to take his words at face value.

     What “drives” you?

     What drives your friends; family; co-workers?

     What drives society at large?

     And, how does all that compare to what seems to drive Paul forward in life?

     This follower of Jesus, who thought he had it all, education – power – prestige, was humbled by the risen Christ that he had zealously persecuted.  And then, having experienced his powerful, abiding, calling presence in life, he was driven to serve Him – above anything else.  He even willingly gave that life up for his risen Lord.  The irony is that by giving it up – he gained eternal life.

     I don’t know what “drives” you.

But I do know that two thousand years ago a Jesus follower with a changed name and a changed life challenged us to be driven by the right things – and the right Lord.

Prayer: Lord, help me to set aside all that would keep me from pursuing the life you offer me in your abundant grace.  Having experienced that love, show me how to invite others to gain it as well.  AMEN. 

 

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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