Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Philippians 3:4-14 Forget the Past to Forge into the Future

KEY TEXT: Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But 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 upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

KEY THOT: Paul never looks back: he considers his past achievements as "rubbish" (KJV: "dung"), to be forgotten, not remembered. If anyone has reason to boast of his spiritual heritage, it would be Paul: "circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless (vv.5-6). On top of that, he was a man of great learning and social/political standing in his society. But when compared with what he has gained in Christ, these accomplishments were like dung. And no one spend time admiring his own dung!

As disciples of Christ, we are called to forget the past ("forgetting what lies behind") to forge into the future ("straining forward to what lies ahead"). We are called to be future-oriented, not past-fixated people. The past is over, but the future is an open page--ready to be written with new visions and goals. While we may occasionally glanced backward (like in driving to see what's behind us), we would crash if we are only focused on what is behind us and forget to look ahead. We cannot take our spiritual bearing from where we have come from. We can only take our bearing from where we are going--"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (v.14).

A book by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter, management consultants for CEOs, has this intriguing title, What Got You Here Won't Get You There. In this book, the authors write that many companies are in decline because their CEOs are stuck in their past accomplishments. Their common attitude is: "We are successful today because of how we have done things in the past. So why do we need to change from what is tried and tested?" The simple reason is this: the environment that made us successful in the past does not exist any longer. Continuing to do things the way we have always done them in the past would soon be irrelevant in the new cultural and social realities. 

And this is not just a lesson for corporate leadership but also for  church leadership. The world has changed. Though our message will remain unchanged, our methods (practices) must change--if we are to survive. If we don't, we will end up like the dinosaurs--extinct, as many churches in the past have disappeared because they were unable to adapt to new social/cultural realities.

The future belongs to those who are future-oriented. The Second Coming of Christ is in the future, not in the past. Our goal is for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, not the backward call of past human traditions. No matter how glorious it was, it's over. The past cannot be changed or improved upon. Only the future remains--all the possibilities and potentialities for Christ will be forged in the future, not in the past. The past cannot be re-written, but the future remains an open book for those who are future-oriented.

Abba-Father, what a glorious future is reserved for us. And it's going to be a never-ending future. And the potentialities of new glories are found in the future with Christ, as His coming draws near. Amen.

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