Monday, 22 October 2007

"Only let us live up to what we have already attained..."

As some of you will know, I've been listening through a sermon series on Philippians. Yesterday I thought a bit further about 3:16: 'only let us live up to what we have already attained.'

I think I'd always thought that this verse was saying something similar to a sentence Paul uses elsewhere: 'live a life worthy of the calling you have recieved'. However, having looked at this passage in a bit more detail, I now wonder if Paul is addressing what's know by theologians as an under-realised eschatology, that is, not appreciating the blessings that a believer has already received.

In 3:10-11, Paul says that he wants to 'know Christ' better - not to know more about him, but to know him better. This comes as we walk the path of Christ, growing in intimacy with him as we take the path of humility and suffering (which Paul has already described in 2:6-9), and trusting in God the Father to glorify us in our resurrection, just as he did Christ. It's when we're confident of our future resurrection that we can give ourselves wholly to serving others in humility, and it's through doing so that we know Christ better.

Paul confesses that he still has a long way to go (3:12) and so he presses on to receive more of that for which Christ took of him: ultimately, to know Christ and live for him. This is what he strains towards, and which he will receive in fulfilment in the new creation.

And so, Paul says, 'let us live up to what we have already attained'. Let us live out the relationship with Jesus that we've already got. Let us continue to experience what it means to live every day with Jesus. He is everything that we need, and knowing him is the goal of our salvation. So let's experience the intimacy of living for him.