1 Jan 2000

Can we say that we have arrived?

Submitted by theshovel
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Because though I realize that God sees me as complete and there is nothing left to add to make myself better - I don't think I have arrived. I am not at a place where I never worry, never doubt, or never feel lonely. If there is a place like that and you guys are there - then I am happy for you. C

Hello C, Thanks so much for these thoughts! I appreciate you sticking yourself out there where you might be easily misunderstood. :) I'm glad you don't think you have arrived. :) You know why? Because there is no such place!! You see, to think we have arrived is an attitude and not a reality. The reality is secure for it has already been accomplished in Christ, and knowing this reality is not what produces that attitude of thinking we have made it. The I-have-arrived attitude is merely the fleshly evaluation of our present situation, and it is no different if it is based upon how well I perform at my place of employment or upon how well I understand grace. The flesh will take ANY opportunity to claim that the place it has reached is THE place that defines what it means to arrive. I believe this is what brought Paul to write these words:

... that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. Philippians 3:10-17

Now, we might get caught up on our favorite buzz words in that passage, but if we'll read it as if it all has to fit together into one cohesive statement we'll realize that Paul described our lives in terms of WHEREVER it is we happen to be there is always and only ONE THING before us: Christ.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect.

Notice, this is not a negation of "as many as are perfect". There are passages all over the Bible (as well as many other writings, or even in our own conversations) where some of the same words are used in different ways in order to bring out the point by way of contrast. Our perfection or completeness in Christ is not being denied in any way by Paul's use of it here, but instead he was drawing attention to that attitude that saw itself above others in Christ because of some kind of arrival on our part.

You know, I find it so amazing how sometimes we can so easily slip into an insanity by which we see ourselves as somehow a little more spiritual because we have a better understanding of the grace of Christ. See the irony? In other words, if I have come to understand this GRACE that is supposedly convincing me that I have received it as a gift and not of my performance, then how in the world do I consider that this place of understanding is an arrival? That's whacko.

We do have a tendency to over-doctrinalize life (Okay, I know that's not a real word, but it just came to mind!) and often paint ourselves into a corner with the strictness of our own definitions. As an example, consider this verse:

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

I remember getting to that place where being saved simply was an erroneous concept - based on the systematic approach to scripture. haha! Yeah, right! Once again, I have realized that we can be our own worst enemies in assuming all things to be equal. :)

Our life in Christ is an amazing journey for us. Knowing Him is everything. Wherever you are, press on, for no one is ahead of you or behind you, for we are all in this together!

Love, Jim

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Christ, the new creation, resurrected from the dead to new life, is the explanation of all that which is not able to be seen apart from it.   source