“You simply HAVE to get active! I mean it, father. If you value your health AND your ministry. You HAVE to start moving more!” How I HATE these annual physicals! But seriously, the older I get the more my metabolism slows down and the more I have to work hard to stay active. The truth is I’ve never been the athlete in the family. I was always the bookworm, the “good student” and the “philosopher.” My brother was the first-rate athlete. Football, golf, hunting, motocross, and the list goes on and on. The guy is a stud! And I’m the spud! You know, the couch potato! Hey, as I keep telling my doctor “Round is a shape!”
Seriously, there’s no escaping the necessity for activity. Our bodies, like our souls, were meant for exercise! We were built to move. We were built for effort and resistance and balanced attention to life!
Look at our lesson today in Philippians 3:8-19:
BRETHREN, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain that resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but 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 upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature be thus minded; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
St. Paul continues his work with his parish in Philippi of encouraging them to stay active in their Faith, to not take it for granted. Because, just like physical health, spiritual health will diminish if we don’t stay focused and attentive!
He admits to the Philippians that he had not already obtained perfect faith, but he did reveal the path to perfect faith and it had two very active components!
First, Paul says we have to Forget! Forget what? Forget everything that could ever be a rival to the priority of faith in my life. That means my career takes a backseat to my faith. My education takes a backseat to my faith. My ambition takes a backseat to my faith. I forget my achievements and my mistakes of my past. I stop allowing my past to invade my present with all its regrets and faded glory! I don’t fall for the trap of “glory days” and I don’t wallow in the regret of “what might have been.” To actually forget doesn’t mean ignore, but it does mean I choose to not allow what’s behind me to keep me prisoner! I’m actively choosing to prioritize my faith over my fear! And that’s an active choice, dear one. Sometimes I find myself having to make that choice moment by moment to keep my past BEHIND me instead of on top of me!
Second, Paul says we have to Strain forward! Toward what? Paul identifies what I should be straining towards when he says his goal, and our goal has to be “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” I am straining (I love that word. It’s so filled with real sweat and effort!) upward, not backward, not downward, not even forward, but UPWARD! And God is calling me to Himself and He’s above all things! And He wants me with Him UP THERE!
Today, are you actively forgetting and straining Upward? If you get a glimpse of the true goal of your faith, you’ll never settle for a religious hobby ever again! You won’t be satisfied until you’re Orthodox on Purpose! LIVE Orthodoxy!