by Mary Stout
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:12-14, NLT)
Recently we talked about sanctifying grace. This is what the Holy Spirit uses to guide us in our walk toward becoming more like Jesus. We have a new life and a new goal. We want to become more like Jesus as we strive toward Christian perfection. This is the goal of our walk.
As I studied John Wesley’s sermon, it occurred to me the journey we walk as Christians is a process much like a baby’s first year. The baby grows quickly. He begins lifting his head, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing and walking. Each of these things is a milestone as they grow. That’s not to say the little one doesn’t struggle. If you’ve ever watched the little ones accomplish these feats, you know they get frustrated when they can’t do it or cry when they fall. Here is the thing: they get back up and keep at it eventually mastering their new found skills.
Reaching for Christian perfection does not mean we won’t struggle or have trials or we are free from the curse of sin. It’s what we long for: to become like Jesus in our heart, mind, and soul. Remember, when we make the decision to be a Jesus follower, in God’s eyes wee are hidden in Christ. Our sinful nature remains in us as human beings. The difference is the presence of Jesus within us transforms us to strive for and reach for better choices, better decisions and have a better life than we could ever have before God’s grace saved us.
John Wesley wrote, “A Methodist is one who loves the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength.” Dedicating all of our thoughts, words, and deeds are only possible within the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus. Because he loves us we can grow into the person we are meant to be with his help. Gods love and mercy and grace continually inspire us to live as Christians. We learn to love our neighbors as ourselves. Because he first loved us, we are to love one another.
It’s an adventure like no other.
Prayer: Father we thank you for the gift of Jesus that we may continually love and breathe and have our being in You. May each of us constantly reach for Christian perfection through prayer, worship, study, and fellowship. Help us to run the race and show those who don’t know you your light and love. We lift your name as we travel this road. In Jesus name. Amen.