We live in a world of competing priorities. All of them are good things. Do I want the Honda or the Ford? Minivan or Sedan? Florida or Florida State? Public, Private, or Home Schools? Swim or Dance? Assisted Living or Independent? Each one can seem both overwhelming and mundane at the same time. When you compare our choices as Americans in light of the condition of Christians in Mosul, Honduras, Gaza, Israel, Ukraine, and Nigeria, we have so much to be thankful for. We also have someone else to pursue. Philippians invites us to Know Christ.
When Paul was imprisoned for his witness, he wrote a letter to console anxious Philippians that their faith was strong, that somehow his condition was a sign of success, and his absence was a reminder of Christ’s presence. The only way that he could share this kind of good news was because he had discerned what was best (Philippians 1:10). He weighed his priorities and realized the only thing was to “know Christ and the power of his resurrection, to share in his suffering, becoming like him in his death (3:10).
That challenge is only made possible because of the wonderful grace of Jesus that has been offered to us on the cross. When we receive it, we’re invited into this adventurous pursuit that causes everything else to lose its value. The only thing that remains are the people and things that are what Christ wants for us right now. Even prison, suffering, and setbacks cannot stop what Christ wants. In fact, he uses each one of them to mold us into the kind of people that will be “found blameless” on his day.
Through September 26, we’ll be studying Philippians together in worship as we seek to know Christ, not simply know about him. This pursuit is illustrated in a movie from my childhood. In City Slickers, a group of middle-aged men go to a dude ranch to try to find the meaning of life. They return only to find that it was in front of them all along. The just needed to focus on the one thing that really matters. Jack Palance’s character Curly asks Billy Crystal, “What is the One Thing?” He doesn’t answer the question, he invites him to pursue it.
We have the answer. The one thing is a Person—Jesus Christ. When we pursue Him, nothing else really matters.