Growing, Sharing, Becoming

Last night I was fascinated by the action words I saw in Philippians 3 and blogged about in A More Worthy Pursuit.

Growing, sharing, and becoming…

I’ve been editing resumes recently for a lot of college grads who are looking for jobs and one piece of advice that I never fail to give is this: “Change your job descriptions and use words that convey action… strong action and strong leadership ability.” Words like “coordinated,” “managed,” and “organized,” all play well in the corporate setting, as well as in the political world.

At first glance these words… “growing,” “sharing,” and “becoming,” found in Philippians 3 seem to convey A LOT of action. I can almost imagine the early believers scurrying around in the pursuit of growth, community, and Christ-likeness. Or wait… is that me?

Don’t get me wrong – these are action words. But they’re action words that push the believer toward BEING and not just DOING. And after realizing that, I realized that I carry much of my environment, culture, and my profession  with me in my relationship with Christ and the way I interpret Scripture. I see where I place a lot of emphasis and whose strength I rely on.

Let’s refresh: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11

I asked these questions yesterday (and I’ll continue to ask them of myself for a long time to come):

“Am I growing in my knowledge of Christ and the power of His resurrection? The fellowship of sharing in His sufferings? Becoming like Him in His death?

How do we know Christ and become like Him? How do we learn to cherish our salvation and understand the power of the resurrection? Through time with Him in His Word… so that requires action, but it’s Christ who reveals Himself to us (John 17:3, Ephesians 4:14-15), and it’s Christ who sanctifies and makes us into His image (John 17:17, Psalm 119:11). It’s also Christ who allows us to share in His sufferings and depending on what that looks like for you, that may require more or less action on your part. However, in all these things, if it’s not Christ DOING, all of our efforts are in vain. Our primary job is to pursue godliness, but it is a pursuit empowered by the living God – not a race powered by our own legs or breath.

Paul uses lots of action words in 1 Timothy 4:7-10

Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

Action words are good. I like them because I’m very type-A, high output, and a classic overachiever. However, the important lesson that God continues to teach me is that my relationship with Him is not about me. It’s all about Him and it’s by Him and for Him and through Him. The actions then, must start with Him and I have to do them IN Him or I’ll meet with failure yet again. It’s hard, especially when you hate passivity… but God delights in requesting action, but then requiring that that action be completed by us WITH His help.

That way He gets all the glory. So grow and share and become, but in all your growing, sharing, and becoming, never forget who empowers you or that your purpose is Christ Himself.

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A More Worthy Pursuit

A goal of mine used to be to read all of the U.S. Presidents and First Ladies’ autobiographies and any books they have authored (and it’s quite an extensive list). I love history and politics. I’ve always loved reading and I have many lists of books that I’d love to add to my library. Today I decided that a more important goal is reading all of these: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/OnlineBooks/ByTitle/

I waste too much time. I find that I talk a lot about valuing the eternal more than I value the here and now. But sometimes that’s a bit more difficult to actually live out. It means we have to really take a magnifying glass to our choices. We have to recognize that where we spend our limited time and energy highlights what we truly value. I want to value my relationship with God more than I value music, novels, shopping, academic pursuits, friends, and even ministry. I want to be constantly ingesting and absorbing books, sermons, and Scripture that bring me closer to Christ.

I want to really value Christ and live my life in constant pursuit of Him. I don’t want there to be a day that goes by that I’m not made more like Him. He, and He alone, is a worthy pursuit.

So does that mean I need to stop watching shows on Hulu, stop frequenting Ann Taylor and Forever21, and sell all my books on politics? Not exactly. What it does mean is that I need to more closely monitor how I spend my time and realign my priorities when I realize that the things of this world are crowding out my pursuit of Christ.

Something God  has been speaking to me about throughout this last week is how easily distracted I am by life. And not just by the hard things of life, but by the pleasures of life as well. The primary take away from this Easter season was I don’t love my Lord as I should because I don’t give Him the time that I should. He’s also reminded me that all the things of this life are worthless compared to knowing Him. The Apostle Paul learned this lesson as well:

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11

Would we say that a man loved a woman (or a woman loved a man) if they infrequently or sporadically spent time together, talked, or shared their lives? Unless there are extenuating circumstances that prevented communication for a time, most would consider that to be an incredibly unhealthy relationship. Couples in love delight to sacrifice other things to spend time with the one they love. After all, my boyfriend Josh is correct in his frequent assertion that “time spent is relationship built.”

So what relationship am I building? Am I growing in my knowledge of Christ and the power of his resurrection? The fellowship of sharing in his sufferings? Becoming like him in his death? Does everything I do reflect my love for him and time spent with him in his Word?

Wow. These are the things (growing, sharing, becoming) that are a worthy pursuit.