Read Philippians 3:12-21
It’s just a basic fact of reality: The Christian sees things differently. On the journey of life, the Christian doesn’t obsess over and freak-out because of the bump in the road that causes him to stumble and gives him a bruised knee. No, rather, the Christian’s eyes are set on something in the distance, and so he gets up, knocks the dust off and travels on. As we grow in our faith we begin to realize that in this life, we are just passing through. Heaven is our home.
But many times this can be hard for us to see. It is sort of like that embarrassing moment when you are in a grocery store looking desperately for an item on the shelf, but not finding it. And, if you are like me, you aren’t about to ask anyone for help. No way! I should be able to find this myself, thank you very much. But then you just start wandering down each aisle, wasting precious time. Finally, it becomes noticeable to one of the workers and they ask if they can help. I finally swallow my pride and admit that I can’t find what I’m looking fore… I’ve looked and I’ve looked and I can’t see it anywhere. But then, sometimes, it gets even more embarrassing, because even before I finish telling them what I’m looking for, the worker points to the place on the shelf right in front of me. And there it is!
Well this world is like the aisles at the grocery store… a thousand products vying for your attention. But all we need is just one thing. Only one thing is needful. But my cart always ends up with all kinds of other stuff that I didn’t come for and I don’t need.
Consider Adam and Eve; they had the tree of life to eat from, but they chose the forbidden fruit, instead. It falsely promised them that they could be their own god, that they could find fulfillment on their own terms. In fact, its funny that the source of their temptation was something as simple and seductive as food. Such a simple pleasure. But that’s so typical. Pleasure sure does seem to create an appetite in us, doesn’t it?
Today, in our scripture reading, St. Paul points out that anyone who lives solely for the sake of the pleasures of this world, “their god is in their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. (Philippians 3:19)” He even calls them – “enemies of the cross!” Now that is pretty extreme. How would you like to be labeled an enemy of the cross? At first we might think of atheists – those who deny God’s existence altogether. Or maybe we think of those who persecute Christians worldwide–the Islamic terrorists or some communist regime.
But here’s the scary part:
Paul wasn’t talking about unbelievers, he was talking about people in the church. He was addressing the person who professes to be Christian but who is worldly in their attitude and worldly in their actions. He was addressing people who say they love Jesus, but then pursue only pleasures and the priorities of the world. He says – “their god is their belly.” That’s his way of saying – They don’t live for Jesus, they live for SELF. They follow the if it feels good just do it mentality. And “Their destiny is destruction.” They are going the opposite direction of citizens of Heaven.
And what gets even scarier is when I reflect upon my human nature… when I reflect how easy it is for me to be victimized by the immediate… how easy it is for me to be tyrannized by the self-serving pleasures and priorities this world…
I don’t want to be an enemy of the cross, and I’m confident you don’t either.
For many, in the day-to-day, God just isn’t in the picture. Our picture of things is usually way too small. Our sin encourages us to measure God and His love by our lives and the way we feel about things. But Jesus says, “Have you really looked at all that I have done to love you, to care for you, forgive you, and give you hope and a future?”
If you haven’t, He would say, “Look at Me again!”
Keep looking at Him in the Bible, keep listening to Him speak to you through His Word. Study His word. Make it a priority.
Lord, teach me, as Your faithful follower, how
To have fun without folly,
To be cheerful without vanity,
To have self-respect without pride,
To be strict with out fanaticism,
To be relaxed without laziness,
To be serious without gloom,
To be friendly and not fickle,
To be sunny but not silly,
Lord teach me how. Amen.