If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this 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 heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. [NRSA: Phil 3:4-14]
Philippi was a retirement community for military and government workers, as well as communities of the poor from the Greek region and from Rome. As a Roman colony, that didn’t have to pay tribute to Rome but was very Rome-like with a patriotic community of transplants in an area where Greeks visited for fertility worship. Finally, as a beautiful place of retreat and commerce, the community enjoyed a diverse group of people.
Located in the foothills of the LAKANI Mountains and mt PANGAION pan-ga-yawn, it sounds like our favorite town.
Paul’s primary theme in this passage is “Endurance in Faithfulness.”
Pressing toward the Heavenly Goal.
Pressing on – is an athletic term in Greek, as in a race.
Don’t give up when the goal is near.
We have the upcoming “run for the Son” race, and I encourage you to register today, even if you are running virtually at home. It is a worthy cause, and we need all who can help us win the prize for the most support. (Take a moment to sign up right now with your name and phone number, and we will follow up)
Pressing on also has a military use:
There would have been those in military service who had been given orders to push forward a line within a battle and the need to “Press On.”
A Time to Yield and a time to Press
There are many who press on when they should stop and yield, at the round-about, for example. There are drivers who neither slow down nor do they yield at the circle. There would be no need for the flashing speed monitors if drivers would approach all of downtown with courtesy and caution. This is not a place to press on.
Paul assures us we are on the winning team.
Know I will win the race before the race is over.
How? I belong to Jesus and Jesus is mine. Together, We are completing what Christ has already done for us, and the world.
If Jesus has won the race, then why bother, our team time cannot be beaten. I will coast along… Why not use the back burner, and let someone else step up.
Forget the past sufferings and failures and focus on the prize.
Every runner needs to be present in their current race and not think about the misery of training.
Every soldier needs to let go of what has been lost and see the need to complete the mission of today.
Do not worry or be anxious about what we have no control over, rather
Focus on the things that we can give our faithfulness.
Forgetting is a powerful work. It makes room for the possibilities of today and tomorrow.
Wendy’s mother lived with us for the majority of her battle with dementia. Alzheimer’s and Dementia are terrible thieves. The loss of memories has profound pain and anxiety. There came the point when the pain of suffering from lost memories opened the opportunity for Nancy to think she was living at the Hilton Head Island resort and woke every morning hoping that she had not missed the breakfast buffet.
What are the possibilities for trust, fellowship, witness, and service when we let go of what we have suffered through, failed, and left undone and start fresh in Christ?
When we forgive, as we have been forgiven, we are able to count on each other with fresh hearts of faith in Christ.
We can press on because the weight is gone.
In the movie “The Mission”, Robert DeNiro plays the part of a slave trader in South America who follows a tribe of native people at great suffering and cost to his own traveling party. He discovers the village is at the top of a waterfall and scales the mountain carrying his armor, weapons, and supplies in a giant net… as he reaches the top of the mountain, he is exhausted, weighed down, and defenseless as the natives surround him at the edge of the cliff.
He has two choices. Let go of the rope and all his possessions and face the tribe with nothing, or let go of the cliff, keep his possessions, and fall to the basin below. The chief warrior draws his spear and cuts the rope; DeNiro’s belongings and weapons gone, what is most likely his death, frees him up to meet his enemies. The tribe takes him in and saves his life. (Long epic movie worth the watch)
Paul asks a similar question: Are we holding on or pressing on?
Are we pressing on?
Toward the Heavenly Goal?
Do we know the outcome of the race of our life?
Are we Heaven bound?
Paul is describing a both/and/not yet relationship
What we know by faith is proven during “the course” of our life and in the end, our sharing in the resurrection.
To bind is to fasten to, to already bind, in the past tense is bound…being bound to Christ.
My sins are bound to the cross of Christ….
The Power of Forgetting
Nancy and apple pie Paul gives his credentials and says that he trades it all for what he finds in Christ, asking Roman citizens, and veterans to trade their history for a new future.