Getting back to
It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.
We continue in our Lenten series on getting back to Eden.
Paul puts it so plainly. We are all on a journey back to Eden. We haven’t quite gotten there, but we press on toward that goal.
Paul cites himself as the best of examples of one who needs to keep working toward that goal, to the full maturity of faith needed to grasp onto Eden. He knew that he had faith, but he wanted it to mature, to become more and more intimate with Jesus.
The people he was writing to couldn’t quite understand that. Here was Paul, and apostle. One who met and was sent by the Lord. Here was Paul, one who had suffered in union with and for the Lord; Paul who had sacrificed so much in order to acquire justice before God. He had to be there already, hadn’t he? Paul had to be in a state of perfection. He shouldn’t have to do anything else.
Yet here is Paul clueing them in. We all need to increase our efforts to reach Christian perfection. Much remains to be done, and we really cannot rest on the merits of what has been done before.
We are all tempted to pause, pat ourselves on the back, and think we’ve got it done. Paul reminds us by saying that he must strain forward, press ahead, to what lies ahead, a continued pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.
Today we have reflected on the times we have fallen short in our effort to press ahead toward Eden. We have removed the image of being all done, so we can start fresh. Our prize is not far from our grasp, we re-enter a state of sinlessness, we take hold of the promise of that beautifully perfect place, we have removed the fear caused by shame, we feel peace all around us, we re-engage in a cooperative relationship with God and each other. Eden is not far off.
Jesus is not far from us, but to reach Him it takes effort, introspection, and a commitment to developing more fully that intimate relationship that is at the heart of the Christian journey.
This is the time. If we haven’t done all we should then we need to take heart. The path is clear now and we are able to re-engage. Like the woman brought forward in that street so many years ago we hear Jesus say to us “Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
Freedom is before us. Eden is close by. Wrongs are forgotten. Sin is gone. We are free. We are ready to get back to Eden. The option is to do all required to strain forward.