Meditating, but without God. Relaxation therapy, but without the peace of God. Mindfulness, but without awareness of God’s presence. Forgiveness, compassion and respect encouraged, but without the acknowledgement of God’s Spirit. Ideals of personal integrity, honesty in business, openness in politics, but without grounding in God’s integrity, honesty and openness. That’s the prevailing mood today. We can fix it; we don’t need God. That’s a bit like the attitude that Paul says he turned from when he met the risen Christ on the Damascus Road. Righteousness attained by the human effort of keeping God’s Law he now saw as worthless compared with the righteousness gained through faith in Christ. DIY righteousness compared with God’s freely-given righteousness. The world being put right by our own efforts compared with the world being put right by God. The Gospel announces that God has acted in and through Jesus Christ to put the world right by introducing a new way of being human, a different way of living, one based on union with God. God is constantly working to put right what has gone wrong but he calls for our cooperation in this. God doesn’t just snap his fingers and everything is suddenly put right. The ultimate vision of reality is of everyone and everything living in a perfect relationship with God and with each other, but in the mean time we have God’s decisive action in and through Jesus Christ opening up life on this new dimension for all who will accept it. Under the confusing conditions of life in this world, we have the option of consciously and willingly pressing on toward this goal because Christ Jesus has made us his own. (Philippians 3:12)
- People can do great things without taking God into account. Think of space exploration, medical advances, counselling for example. Why bring God into it?
- If righteousness means being right with God, what’s so wrong with trying to get right with God by putting our best efforts into it?
- If we are saved by God’s grace, what part are we expected to play?
- In Philippians 3:12-14 Paul speaks about pressing on toward the goal. What is the goal for you in your life?