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Pressing on in 2004

• Greg Boyd

94% of all New Year’s resolutions fail. Bringing about permanent change in the way we think and live is very difficult. Yet the Bible says we are to be continually changing into the likeness of Christ. In this message Greg discussed how we can work with God to bring about permanent change in our lives.

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This week Greg used Phil. 3:12-16 to inspire us to press on, to put the past behind us and strive toward that which is ahead! Other active phrases that point in this direction from the text include: press on toward the goal for the prize” and “hold fast to what we have attained.” This type of language indicates that some progress is expected in our lives, the phrase “those…who are mature” also indicates that growth happens and is to be worked towards. And as it is achieved, we are to hold fast to it. One essential thing to notice about all of this striving and active language is that is assumes something very important. Our “righteousness” is not our own. It is Christ’s righteousness that God allows to move through us. We are only trying to imitate Christ (see verses 7-11). And even in the beginning of our passage, we see that Paul makes imitating Christ his own goal because Christ has made Paul (and us) Christ’s own. We are to be like our master. Not to our credit, but to Christ’s, after all, our imitation calls attention to the one we serve, if we do it with proper humility and faithfulness.

Given this, we can set our eyes on imitating Christ as our highest calling and purpose in life. As Greg was preaching, I couldn’t help but recall the phrase “no one can serve two masters, they will hate the one and love the other…” This radical teaching of Jesus is also radically true. We cannot set our hearts on more than one Absolute goal and purpose without subordinating everything else to a lesser level of importance. Christ is our goal and nothing else we pursue is equally important to this. As Greg put it, we need to be asking ourselves, “How can I change to be, think, and feel more like Christ?” And he also reminded us of the age-old assertion that “Life is the school for eternity.” Christ calls us to be disciples, not merely believers; apprentices who mimic the Master. The Bible speaks of this as the “one thing” that “is needful.”

Greg pointed out that (according to a poll) most evangelicals seem to lack goals that have to do with spiritual development. And only 20% of those who did have spiritual goals had anything specific in mind! We often fool ourselves into thinking that the reason we don’t have and keep spiritual goals is because we don’t have time. But time is simply a matter of priorities. If what is stated above is all true, then the simple fact seems to be that most of us do not really have “being like Christ” as our first priority. The best way to change that is to first be honest about it.

Greg quoted Ghandi as saying that if Christians actually lived like Jesus did, the whole world would be Christian within one year! Then Greg went on to describe what Dallas Willard has to say that might help us be more intentional about our spiritual goals. Willard offers the acronym VIM which was identified as meaning: vision, intention and means

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Focus Scripture:

  • Philemon 3:12-16

    3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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