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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What Gives the Christian Life Meaning?

I didn't really start understanding TaeKwonDo until I became a blackbelt. I had heard that this would happen from others who had attained this rank but I was so busy learning that I didn't realize what I was learning. I was so busy trying to become a blackbelt that I didn't know what it was to become one. I found that I had just begun when I became a blackbelt. I started to focus differently. I finally found out what I didn't know.

At some point in your Christian life you realize that you have just begun becoming like Christ. You realize that you haven't attained it no matter how long you have been working on it. You realize that all that you have done, all that you have been, must be left behind. You must look forward and see Christ to become like Him. You cannot look back and say, "Here, look what I have done. These things have made me a very good Christian. These things prove I have become like Christ."

Looking backwards is meaningless. It stagnates the growth. It sits down and rests when there is much to be done. It counts what has been done and says, "This is enough." It negates the whole journey.

Let's say I wanted to make a trip west by foot. I run, jog and walk for some days. It is easy to see where I have come from. Yet, if I have no focus on where I am going, why not be happy with the journey alone? Why not stop where I am now? Why not stay where I am for a while, then, go farther when I feel like it? The journey is meaningless because it has no goal. While many may extol the journey, someone has to ask why. 

Forest Gump (in the movie) started running. He ran from coast to coast. Many people followed him but he had no purpose. It was amazing to watch those who would try to understand why he was running. They gave lofty reasons for his journey but he was running from his pain. They couldn't understand this. It was meaningless to everyone, maybe even to Forest Gump (though I believe he was running from his pain). I see Christians doing this.

Many Christians go to church without any understanding why they have gone. They attend Bible studies. They attempt to have times of prayer and quiet times with God. They struggle with their faith. They fail to understand that neither the time nor the resources they have given are of great significance. They should see that it is all about becoming like Jesus. 

No Christian can stand on what he has done in the past. It only takes one day to negate all of what has happened. You can have a quiet time with the Lord every day for twenty years and stop with just one day. You can be faithful to your spouse and with one act become unfaithful. You can be honest every day and lose that honesty with one lie. Your past is meaningless without a focus on where you are going.

Sure, we can look back and see where we came from but we cannot let this consume us. Looking backward will never get us where we need to go. As the country singer said, "There's no future in the past."

So, today I look at my calling. I see that I have been called to become like Jesus. I note that I haven't gotten there yet. I put all of my past, both failures and successes behind me, and strain forward into my future of becoming like Jesus today. This is what gives the Christian life meaning.

For those who have ears to hear . . . .

Philippians 3:13-15 (NIV) 
13  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,14  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.15  All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

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