Summary: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12.
Luke 9:51-62 Theme: Press on toward the goal
Man is a spiritual being created in the image and likeness of God. In spiritual union with God he had authority and dominion to rule on earth. When man sinned he died spiritually and could no longer have any spiritual union with God. Worse still he had to relinquish his authority and dominion to Satan who became the God of this world. Instead of ruling the world man became a slave to the world’s new ruler Satan and could no longer fulfil God’s divine purpose. For God’s divine purpose to be restored and fulfilled God had to restore this spiritual union. This meant that God had to give man spiritual life again. He did this when Christ paid the penalty for our sin and made it possible for us to be born again spiritually. We should not deceive ourselves by thinking that we can receive spiritual life by coming to Church or by leading a good life. The Scriptures clearly reveal that no one can enter the Kingdom of God on the basis of his or her own efforts or good works. The only way to enter the Kingdom of God is to be born into this kingdom i.e. to be born again. After this spiritual birth it is necessary to grow spiritually and bear the characteristics of the kingdom of God in our lives. This is only possible when we press on toward the goal and take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of us.
Christ is the One who calls us to receive spiritual life i.e. eternal life and become His disciples. We, however, have to respond to that call if we are to be born again into the family of God by accepting Christ as our Saviour and Lord. Being born into the family of God is to receive the nature and character of the family, i.e. the life and nature of Christ. We receive His Holy Spirit and become spiritually alive as citizens of the Kingdom of God and are to grow up to become like Him. As a citizen of the Kingdom of God we have many privileges. The first is that we once more become spiritually united with Christ and given back the authority and dominion that Satan had stolen from us. As a citizen of the Kingdom of God we are to manifest the character of Christ and demonstrate His power in our lives. Without these we will not be able to do His will.
The character and power of Christ result from our commitment to Him. Today’s reading from the gospel teaches us about commitment using the example of three would be disciples. The first person was prepared to follow Jesus everywhere. He offered to follow Him because he was impressed with the benefits such as having access to food and healing. Apparently he was not aware of the cost involved in following Jesus. He was not aware of the difficulties that could come up. Jesus, however, knew everything about him and pointed him to the cost involved in being His disciple. Jesus was the One who called the second person but he wanted to follow Christ at his own convenience. He probably heard Jesus say He had no place to lay His head and wanted to wait for the death of his father and receive his inheritance before following Jesus so that when the need arose he could afford to pay for a place to sleep. The third person was still attracted to what he was leaving behind and could not be of any use to Christ if he kept looking back and longing for what he had left behind. Christ demands our total commitment and says that no one having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of heaven. When we are saved and become citizens of the Kingdom of God, God expects us to be committed to His work and bear fruit, the fruit of the Spirit. We simply cannot remain idle or focus on anything other than Christ after being born again. We need to grow up to spiritual maturity. Just imagine a person looking for a job. When he or she is finally employed they turn up at the office for work but do what they want to do and not the work they were employed to do. Thus their work does not benefit the company in any way although they had been employed to work and bear fruit for the company. In a similar way we are saved to bear fruit that reflects the character and power of Christ. We are to bear fruit that will make an impact on the world. What impact are we making on the world? Has anyone been affected by the fruit we are bearing in our lives? Can Christ be seen in us? God expects every believer to bear the fruit of the Spirit.