Have you ever known a passionate person? Why did you consider them passionate? Was it in the words they spoke? Was it their enthusiastic personality? Were you energized by being around them?
Paul is such a person for us; and Philippians 3:12-21 communicates his enthusiasm for pursuing the Lord.
He launches this section by acknowledging that he still needs to “press on” in his faith in order to become more like Christ. Speaking strictly about his goal to know the Lord and become like Him, he uses phrases such as “take hold,” “straining toward,” and “win the prize.”
Does Paul sound like a man on a mission to you? He does to me!
I love these words in this passage. Not only does it encourage me that Paul – one of the heroes of the faith – thinks there’s more he can do to pursue the Lord, but it’s a reminder to me of how to have a relationship with God.
So how should we have a relationship with the Lord according to Paul’s teaching? Let’s look at three things:
1. We need to pursue God.
Have you ever been pursued – maybe by a romantic interest, maybe by a company that wanted you to work for them? It’s a good feeling, of course, to be pursued and to know you’re wanted. And that’s what Jesus desires from us – not because He’s a needy God or because He’s insufficient on his own. No, He wants us to pursue Him because He loves us and longs for us to understand what it looks like to love someone else more than yourself. The only way we can do that is if we are head over heels in love with Jesus wanting to pursue Him with all we’ve got.
2. We cannot be passive in our faith.
Do you ever wish God could just zap you from Heaven and you’d have more patience, more love or more wisdom? Sometimes I do. But if that was the way it worked, how would any maturity be developed in us? How would we grow? Sitting around waiting for God to act is called passivity. And, oh, what a wasted life we would live if it was all spent waiting because we expected only God to act! Friend, He wants to move in your life, but it’s a two-way street. God won’t force any growth upon you. You need to seek it out and stop any passivity taking root in your heart and life.
3. We need to be active in our faith.
This is absolutely crucial. If we want to be wiser and more mature than we were a year ago, our faith must be active! Here’s what it looks like to be active in your faith: spending time with the Lord daily, memorizing and meditating on Scripture, serving in the church, telling others about Jesus, humbling your heart for correction, being still before the Lord, and placing others’ need above your own. This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it’s a start for engaging in your faith.
How are you actively pursuing Christ?
If you have an immediate answer to that question, awesome! I pray you continue in that. If you know you’ve been passive in your faith instead of actively engaging with it, I want to encourage and challenge you today to pick one thing – just one thing – to focus on and take one step toward pursuing the Lord in that way.
God loves you and desires a relationship with you. He sits waiting for you. All you need to do is take a step toward him.
Then, keep going.