I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. Phil. 3:12-15

Dear Lord Jesus,  I don’t know how old Paul was when he was when he wrote these remarkable words—maybe in his sixties or seventies—but it’s obvious, that with an increase in age came an increase in gospel astonishment. He never grew bored exploring the unsearchable riches of Jesus; and he never seemed to tire of wrestling with the kingdom implications of the gospel—for the world in which you placed him, and for the heart that beat within his breast

Jesus, make me that kind of man. Give me this kind of passion, joy and maturity in the gospel. I’m thankful that it’s your grasp of me, and not my grasp of you, that defines this way of life; for sometimes I lift my hands in awe and gratitude for the way you love me. Sometimes I shake my fists at heaven like a pouting, demanding child. Sometimes I wring my hands in anxious unbelief, like a hapless orphan or spoiled toddler. But I live, and I will die, secure in your palms—confident that I am written upon your heart—beloved and betrothed to you.

Lord Jesus, I praise you that, as with Paul, you’ve given me a prize to win, not a wage to earn. Your finished work forever finished any notion of performance-based spirituality. I never earned my way into a relationship with you, and I don’t maintain a relationship with you by my striving, earnestness or works either. But as the gospel is the end of earning, it’s not the end of effort; so intensify my zeal for laying hold of that free and glorious prize in front of me—the fullness of life in the new heaven and new earth…

So what do I want for the rest of my days, Jesus? I cannot say it any better than Paul, Lord: I want to know you better and better and better—more intimately than ever (Phil. 3:10-11). This is the one thing I want, more than anything else, because it effects everything else. Renew and refresh, deepen and expand, stretch and broaden my relationship with you.

And I want to experience more of the power of your resurrection—power to know more of your love (Eph. 3:14-21); power to love others as you love us (Jn. 13:34-35); power to live in your story, to your glory with the joy you alone can give.

And I want to enter more fully into the fellowship of sharing in your sufferings—living with the birth pangs of new-creation life in this broken world—a world which groans for its release from the bondage to decay, a release that is sure to come (Rom. 8:18-25). I am so thankful to know that our labors in you are not in vain, Lord Jesus (1 cor. 15:58).

This is what I long for the gospel to effect in my heart. Help me to have way done with lesser things and be more taken up with the things which matter most to your heart. So very Amen I pray, in your most glorious and loving name.

 

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Scotty Smith


Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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