Summary: Philippian 3:10-14
PRESSING ON TOWARD MATURITY
Back in college, I had the privilege of meeting a man who had served as a missionary in Iran for 42 years… Dr. William Miller. He had spoken at Urbana and had come to our campus as part of a follow-up conference. That chance meeting turned into a good friendship… we would write one another letters, once in a while I would visit him, and he would call from time to time asking if I would be his chaperon at his speaking engagements. He needed a chaperon b/c he was 96 years old... I’d help him get to the platform, catch him if he fell (or his teeth fell out).
I don’t know if I’ve ever met a man who seemed to know Jesus more intimately than he did. His lived his life with Jesus like life should be lived… in intimate fellowship. Sadly, he died the year Joyce and I got married… though I’m thankful that he was able to meet her. I was also able to tell him that we would be moving to Tajikistan, which is a Persian Speaking country. He just gripped my hand and smiled. A month later I was at his memorial service… a number of Iranians came to his memorial service… many of the most faithful pastors were led to the Lord through his ministry.
But you know, Dr. Miller didn’t come to that place of maturity and intimacy with the Father just because of his having been a believer for over 95 years. He got that way b/c he worked at it. He was purposeful about knowing Jesus more… I believe it was the single goal in his life. I remember once when a group of my friends decided to rent a few cottages at a retreat center. We asked Dr. Miller if he’d come up to speak with us over the weekend. On Saturday night, we were all hanging out in the lobby, when Dr. Miller came out and encouraged us to go to sleep… he said that getting lots of rest on Saturday night should be considered part of our Sunday morning worship to the Lord! Everything centered around Jesus!
Last time, I mentioned the movie City Slickers… where Billy Crystal asked Curley what the meaning of life was. He pointed his finger up. “Your finger is the meaning of life?” “No, one thing. One thing is the meaning of life.” Crystal asks, “What is that one thing?” “That is for you to find out.”
That “one thing” in Dr. Miller’s life was to know Jesus… a passion so perfectly reflected in Philippians 3:10-14 where Paul writes… “I want to know Christ… and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, becoming like Him in His death.” He then says, “not that I have already obtained all of this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it yet; But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
In this passage, we’re exposed once again to Paul’s one great passion… to know Jesus… to know Him ever more deeply and intimately. Paul says, “I haven’t even begun to press out the full dimensions of knowing Jesus! I want to know Him more! I don’t want know more about Him… I want to know Him! Perhaps many of you may have experienced this in your Christian lives… where after a bit of time, you’ve realized that while you’ve been seeking out the things of God… you haven’t sought God himself… where you may be reading books about God, going to church to hear about God, teaching about God at home, even serving God in various ways… but your heart is after God Himself… to know Him more. It’s an easy trap to fall into… so how about we make a deal that from now on we will be a people that values knowing him far more than knowing about him. Let’s be a church that has Psalm 27:4 as its hearts cry… “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple.” What was that one thing David lived for? Same as Dr. Miller, same as Paul… to dwell in the house of His God... to rest in His Father’s presence.
But the Bible doesn’t simply tell us what the goal is (to know Him)… it tells us what needs to be in place in order for us to get there. You see, there are common principles or values that you will see every growing Christian following. I’m not talking about “5 steps to maturity”, “10 steps to holiness”… but those values at work in the lives of maturing believers. We can find four of these values or principles in Paul’s passage here in 3:10-14.