Christ Is Our Future
Christ IsPastor Deone Drake, Pastor Leroy Wiggins - August 23, 2015
If Christ is our future, then Christ must be our only pursuit.
Community Group Study Notes
- What does it mean for us to have a heavenly citizenship? What does that look like in our everyday lives?
- How can you make Christ your only pursuit? How do you know when this is happening (or how do you know when it’s not happening)?
- When Christ is the only prize you are seeking, how will that impact unbelievers in your circle of influence?
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
Leroy: Well, good morning everyone. If you will allow me to, this morning I'm going to jump right into our text so if you have a copy of God's Word with you start to make your way to the book of Philippians which is in the New Testament about half the way through so flip a page or scroll up or down or left or right whatever device you're using we'll make our way there.
In the past couple of weeks we've been in the book of Philippians so if this is your first opportunity to engage in the teaching on the Christ Is series I would recommend and really encourage you to go to thechapel.com, click on the Christ Is and begin to bring yourself up to speed with some really, really rich teachings, so I would encourage you to do that.
And just remembering the context of the book of Philippians. So Paul is writing to us from a Roman prison as he is awaiting trial and he's writing to the young church in Philippi, aka the Philippians at that point. If you recall also, for Paul this being in jail thing, being in prison, man this is cool for him. He's like this is working really well. I'm chained up to people all day long, I get to share the gospel, people are coming to faith, I like prison. So, that's Paul, and that's the context of the book that we're reading. So we'll jump into Philippians 3:17-21 and Paul writes: Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for their destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into the glorious bodies like his own, using the power with which will bring everything under his control.
So, a good fishing buddy of mine, and to remind you there is no such thing as a bad fishing buddy. But a good fishing buddy of mine from where I used to work in corporate America, he invited me to his daughter's wedding recently, and one of the things I like to do when I go back into an environment of celebration from the past if you will, is I like to make sure that I keep myself prayed up. I want to make sure that my mind is sharp, my heart is sharp and that anything around me I'm ready for when I come into those types of environments again. Because I know that if I don't pray, satan will want me to be prey.
So I get myself prayed up. I go into the wedding reception and I go to the appetizer table where every wedding has to have the shrimp cocktail, right? So I get to the appetizer table, get my shrimp cocktail and no sooner than I get this piece of shrimp and I'm ready to eat it, another one of my fishing buddies comes up to me and says "Leroy, you gotta' tell me, what's on the other side? How do you know something's on the other side? I've been thinking about this, how do you know what's on the other side, Leroy?" I'm saying, you've got to be kidding me, right? But I'm prayed up so I'm ready to go. So we have a really rich conversation just in the few minutes that we had talking about what the gospel says awaits those who love Jesus Christ, as well as what awaits those who don't know or love Jesus Christ as well. So I figure, hey, I've got a chance to share this, we've talked about it before, let me just ask him. So friend, have you ever accepted Christ as your Savior? He Looks at me, "Man I do it all the time, I do it a lot!"
So, I'm like, okay, so I see where we're going with this here, and that's probably not unlike many of us, right? That we've come to faith in Christ at some point in our life and life did what life did. We have our highs and our lows in our faith and trials and tribulations and every now and then we might say to ourselves, you know what? I'd better remind God that I did accept Jesus as my Savior. So I look at that and I say listen, I'm not God, I'm not trying to play God and only God knows the heart and the Bible does instruct us to work out our own faith. Maybe my buddy just hasn't been working out his faith. Maybe he just has not been pursuing Christ to know that Christ is his future.
Well over the past few weeks we've learned a number of different things. We've learned that Christ is our life, that Christ is our Lord, Christ is our Savior, and last week we learned that Christ is our confidence as well. So you're saying wow, if Christ is our life, our Lord, our Savior, our confidence, would it not only make sense then that Christ is our future as well?
So we're going to talk about that this morning, and I have the pleasure to share the stage with Pastor Deone Drake who is going to join us momentarily, so as long as I leave him some time he will be up here for that. So I really look forward to that, prepare your hearts for that as well.
So let's go back into verses 18 and 19 of what I just read in Philippians: For I have told you often before, and I say again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows that they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about what matters here on earth.
So, in a few verses prior to 18 and 19 Paul reminds us for those who love Jesus Christ that Christ is our future. But what he says here, and he reiterates it, is that for those who reject Jesus Christ, that they have a future, but their future is destruction. And their future is destruction because of what's in their mind, their worldly mind thoughts take them to places that lead to sin and therefore that is their destruction and it starts in their mind.
When I read through the Bible and I look at the Old Testament and I read the New Testament there are a few things that resonate with me and there may be some things that resonate with you also and to me God speaks an awful lot about the heart and He speaks awful lot about the mind as well.
So I always look at those two things specifically for me and that's no different there that God speaks a lot about the heart and the mind. So maybe you've heard the saying that be careful of your thoughts for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions for your actions become your character. And be careful of your character for your character becomes your destiny or your future. Now the cool thing about that truth is this, is that that applies both to the good as well as to the bad, right?
You see, if our worldly thoughts, and we follow that same trail, if our worldly thoughts take us to those places that lead us to sin and sin leads to death, we're reminded of that in James 1:15 - that sin, when it is fully grown brings forth death. Now obviously this would be the negative scenario of that whole thought, that whole train or the trail, that I just spoke about.
But conversely, think about it this way, what if we actually had Christ-like thoughts. I mean, our Christ-like thoughts would then have no choice but to resonate into Christ-like words. And those Christ-like words would then have to lead into Christ-like actions. And those Christ-like actions would then lead into a Christ-like character. And our Christ-like character would lead right to Jesus Christ as Jesus Christ being our future.
And I love Proverbs 23 and it's just, it reminds me of some things and gives great comfort. So, Proverbs 23 reads this: My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right. Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. And here it goes - there is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. So there are many places in scripture where for those who follow and love Jesus Christ, we can know definitively that Christ is our future.
Now if we take verses 18 and 19 and compare that to what Paul says for those who do love Jesus Christ, let's read now verses 20 and 21: But we are citizens of heaven - and remember, Paul is writing to the church in Philippi and by extension he's writing to us as well - but we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly awaiting - and that eagerly points to the future again - we are eagerly awaiting for him to return as our Savior. And he will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.
So Paul, in those two verses right there makes it perfectly clear to us that our citizenship is in heaven. And if you follow citizenship in heaven, what that means, follow some verses in scripture for us, for you here, and we'll see what that means when we are a citizen.
Citizenship is this: status of being a citizen. In Ephesians 2:19. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household. We are citizens. We are citizens vested with rights. John 1:12. Yet to all who receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. These are things that we have as those who love Jesus Christ. We are vested with honor.
First Samuel 2:30. Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: I promised that members of your house would minister before me forever. But now the Lord declares: Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me will be disdained. Regardless of how good of a person you are.
And then the last thing, an award for being a good citizen. Revelation 22:12. Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. So what Paul is saying there is that to those who love Jesus Christ, we are citizens in heaven. We belong in heaven. We are therefore citizens backed up by God's word in a number of different places there.
Remember when you were young and maybe your grandparent or a parent may have said something to you like this: Now, when you go there, conduct yourself wisely. In my home it was more like hey, boy, don't act a fool. But you get what that is, right? Basically what's being said there is that you need to represent the family and to represent the family well, right? So when you are going someplace that is not home the expectation is that you will conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of what you are being taught at home, plain and clear.
And you say to yourself, o.k, well Leroy, what on earth does that have to do with this right here? Well as people who follow Jesus Christ, we do know that this earthly dwelling place, it's not our home, right? Our home is in heaven. We are destined for heaven. So how that translates here is while we are here, are we conducting our lives in a manner worthy of what we're being taught in God's word. So in essence, is our citizenship conduct recognizable as people that follow Jesus Christ.
So what does your citizenship conduct mean to you? What does citizenship of heaven mean to you that follow Jesus? So we come to church on a Sunday and I used to serve in the parking lot and boy I would see all kinds of things in the parking lot. Put your smile on. You'll open the door for your wife and you come into the front doors. You open the door for that and everyone else and we smile and we hug and we sing and we praise and all good things that we do in our little heaven so to speak, right? And that's good stuff. And it all means well. But your citizenship conduct, what does that look like when we are no longer in the building, though? When we are out and about and what does the rest of the world see? Does the rest of the world see, does the rest of the world hear the gospel of Jesus Christ based upon our citizenship conduct?
And ask this question here: Is your citizenship conduct recognizable in your marriage? Is your citizenship conduct recognizable in your parenting? Is your citizenship conduct recognizable at work? Is your citizenship conduct recognizable in your school or college or universities? Is it recognizable in the spheres that God has placed you in because God has placed us all in circles of influence that he wants us to influence those folks for the nature of the gospel. Is your citizenship conduct recognizable as a person who follows Jesus Christ? Do people, after your conduct with them say this? Wow, so that's what's it like to be a Christian! Which would be great because that's how we begin to impact people. Or do they use those exact same words and say, Wow, so that's what it's like to be a Christian? What is it your citizenship conduct represents to the rest of the world?
I remember in one of our Connection Point men's groups meetings that we have we started talking about what all that means - this was a while ago - and basically we summed it up this way that every interaction that we have with other people should leave us positioned to share the gospel of Jesus Christ if the opportunity presented itself. That every interaction we have with other people should lead us into the opportunities of sharing the gospel if the opportunity presented itself regardless of the nature of the service we may have received, regardless of the tone with which someone may have spoken to us, regardless of how we are that day, have we represented the gospel well enough to share the gospel after every time we've had a conversation with someone.
In first Corinthians Paul reminds us that for now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. See, one day we will fully be like Christ. One day we will but right now we are not that way but one day we will but we can only become like Christ based upon our nearness to Christ. Pastor Jerry spoke about that a while ago that nearness to Christ equals likeness to Christ. And we've talked about it here really, really all the time about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and you should be able to just spout that off after a year with the discipleship resource but being a disciple is daily following Jesus and compelling others to do the same. That's great for the compelling part, but if you and I aren't daily following Jesus Christ, it's awfully, awfully hard to compel someone to do something that you and I are not doing ourselves.
So our Christ's likeness is directly related to our Christ nearness. And since we know that our future is Christ, and we know that our citizenship is in heaven, imagine what it would look like if you and I lived each and every day, now here on earth, as we were when we'll be living in heaven. If our interactions with other people were interactions such that it would represent that we are living our lives right here, right now with the same heart and concepts of what we will be living like in heaven, imagine the glimpse of heaven that people would see. Imagine the glimpse of Jesus Christ people would see if that is truly how we lived our lives. And I would say a challenge to all of us this week would be just to do that. So wherever we may go in all those areas that I just mentioned a few minutes ago, that all of our interactions, let's live our lives as if we were living in heaven with that person next to us.
Imagine what that would do at the end of a week for all of those people that you go work with or school, that you love them, you treated them as if they were in heaven with you right now. What that would do to our marriages if we treated our spouse like we are in heaven with them right now and obviously we're not even married in heaven, I'm not saying that. But what I am saying is there's a conduct that we will have when our hearts are positioned to Jesus Christ. Live our lives now like we will then.
You see one thing that Paul did that, it was very, very evident is that Paul put all his eggs in one basket in God. He trusted God with everything. You could read it over and over in scripture that his faith was fully in Jesus Christ. He didn't know exactly how all this was going to happen. You can read in Philippians 3:10 which we're not going to go to right here, but he's not sure about exactly how this resurrection's going to take place but all of his faith, all of his trust, was in God through Jesus Christ - boom, all eggs in one basket.
But I think sometimes we have to ask ourselves that same question - did we put all of our eggs in that same basket? Do we put all of our faith, all of our hope, and all of our trust, in God through a relationship with Jesus Christ despite the fact that we don't know it all? Do we give him 100% or do we say, you know what, I'm going to give God 95% and I'm going to hold this relationship back and I'll keep that here and maybe I'll hold my finances back or maybe I'll hold my addiction back or maybe I'll hold this attitude back. I'm going to keep that one here just in case he's not in control and just in case I may make a better god. Or do we give that all to him because I think the thing we need to remember is when we've accepted Christ as our Savior, that's what we did. To give him all of it. We've in essence trusted him with our eternity. We've trusted him with everything to the left and everything to the right and they do not meet. We've trusted God with our whole eternity when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior.
And if we've done that, could there possibly be anything that Jesus would not be the answer to? There's nothing that he won't be the answer to. Our marriages - Jesus is the answer. Our parenting - Jesus is the answer. All of our relationships - Jesus is the answer. Our health - Jesus is the answer. Our addictions - Jesus is the answer. Our future - Jesus is the answer. If you've trusted him with your eternity he's got each and every part of us - faith, hope, and trust - all in Jesus Christ.
So I guess to my fishing buddy at the wedding, I would probably put it to him this way: I'd point him right back to scripture again and say friend, remind yourself of John 14. If you've put your faith, hope, and trust in Jesus Christ but you're just not quite sure of the future, be comforted by this verse here. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, ye may be there also. Christ is our future.
So what I would ask you to do is when we hear this next song, ask you to remain seated, but I ask you to really contemplate, really meditate, or pray on what it means to you to know for a fact that Jesus Christ is your life, that Jesus Christ is your Lord, Jesus Christ is your Savior, and Jesus Christ is your future.
[Chris Is Enough song is played]
Deone: So if I were to take what you've just heard Pastor Leroy declare to us and put it in one sentence it would sound something like this: If Christ is our future, then Christ must be our only pursuit. If Christ is our future, then Christ must be our only pursuit. You just sang that. Christ is my reward. That's Christ is my future. I have decided today to follow Jesus. Christ is my only pursuit.
And what I want to do in our time is to go back just a little bit in the text because what Paul does is he takes the statement that Pastor Leroy has just made to us and unpacks it and gives us the So What? What are you going to do about it? If you would say Christ is my future, then what are you going to do about it tomorrow? The next day? Will you in fact get up every morning and say I have decided today to follow Jesus?
And Paul is going to give to us some things that are very, very specific that will help us do that. I'm going to start with verse 12. Follow along. Not that I have already obtained all this - the citizenship in heaven that Paul has talked about? I'm not there yet. I've not obtained that. Nor have I arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
If you haven't figured it out yet, Paul is an avid sports fan. He'd fit right in, guys, with us. And specifically he's fond of the foot race. Even as we see the metaphor emerging out of this text. I would imagine that as he writes he might close his eyes and remember that time when he was in Athens and perhaps he went to the arena where he saw the foot race. Between two arches, a distance of an eighth of a mile - back and forth would be a quarter mile race. The runner would be stripped of every possible hindrance. He would run naked. He would place his back foot against a stone - lodge it there so he'd have something to push off and then he would run as soon as the bell was rung and he would not let go of the prize, the goal line, the end until the race was over. And Paul says that's exactly how I intend to live out my existence - even in prison - with my eyes fixed on the prize.
The prize for the Greek runner was a laurel wreath around his head. Gobs of money. A meal at public expense. Front row seats to the theatre in Athens that night. For Paul, his prize is citizenship in heaven. And the reason that was his prize is because his goal was to fully know Christ. We learned that from last week. And his goal was that in fully knowing Christ he would become like Christ. We learned that just a moment ago. And Paul realized that the entry point to him fully knowing Christ and fully becoming like Christ was the resurrection from the dead. That's why he said these words in chapter three, verse 10. I want to know Christ - yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, so that somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul knew that the resurrection from the dead would be the entry point into the presence of Christ where his citizenship in heaven would be fully realized and he would fully know Christ and he would become fully like him. But why does Paul tell us that? Does Paul tell the Philippians that so that they would think that he's a spiritual superstar? Paul tells them that and us so that his prize would be our prize. And his pursuit would be our pursuit.
And so I would ask you - Paul's prize was Christ - does that sound like you? Does that describe you? That your prize is Christ? And Paul says that his pursuit is Christ. Does that sound like you? And to make sure it sounds like you, Paul will give us markers to hem us in on the race so that we know that our prize is Christ. Our future is Christ.
Let me give you the first. I remind myself that I have not arrived. I remind myself that I have not arrived. Twice in the passage that we just read, Paul states that he has not arrived. In verse twelve, not that I have already obtained all this or have already arrived. Verse thirteen. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. So he says I've not arrived.
Listen, come on. Let's be real. If the most dedicated, committed, spiritually mature Christian who ever lived can say he has not arrived, who in the world do I think I am to think that I've arrived? How can you possibly think that you've arrived? You haven't. A simple reality check here. If the prize is that I will know Christ and that I will be fully like him then I already know the answer to these questions. Do I know Christ like I will and like I should? If any other answer is in your head other than no, you're deceived. You do not know Christ like you will and you do not know Christ like you should. Therefore there is room for God to work in your heart.z
And the second question. Am I like him as I will be and as I should be? Again, any other answer than no, you're self deceived. You're not like him. Like you will be and therefore there is work and that fights against the complacency that often plagues our soul. The hymn writer said it this way: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the one I love. And I recognize how easy it is for me, even after serving Christ for thirty-nine years of my life to wander off course. Because there is just too much of the old Deone in me. There is much for God to do.
So I ask you to go back in your recent memory and ask this question: What is God doing in your life right now? To make you more like Christ and so that you will fully know him? What is he doing right now? If your answer is nothing, if your answer is nothing, is it because you think you've arrived? If your answer is nothing, is it because he's not speaking? Or you're not listening? If the answer is nothing is it because you are not spending enough time in front of the mirror of his word for him to speak to you and say, that part right there of you? That's ending here and we're moving on.
You see I need to remind myself in order to run the race I need to remind myself that I have not arrived. Here's the second thing I see: I lay hold of why Jesus lay hold of me. I lay hold of why Jesus lay hold of me. I didn't make that point up, did I? Paul says the exact words. He puts it this way in verse 12: I press on - that's a runner's term - I lunge forward to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Isn't that, isn't that an interesting statement? Take a good long stare at that. It's actually a curious thing for Paul to say.
If I asked you, if I said I'm going to grab a microphone and go up and down these aisles and ask you this question: Why did you give your life to Christ? I would imagine I'd hear some phenomenal answers. Every time we do baptisms we hear some phenomenal answers. Why did you give your life to Christ? Cherish your answer. I cherish mine.
Paul is on a completely different wavelength, though. Paul is not as interested in why he took hold of Christ as to why Christ took hold of him. So Paul's question is not why did I give my life to Christ? Paul's question is this: Why did Christ grab a hold of my life? When I was walking down the road to Damascus, why did God stop me just like that, turn me around for the sake of the gospel? Why did he do that? Now at the surface level I've got to be honest with you. Having that question rather than one we often ask removes the consumer mindset that oftentimes we have.
Here's what we hear sometimes when our ear's to the ground. I like the music here. Glad you do. But I'll guarantee you the men and women who lead in our worship have a more important question to answer: What does God think of our worship? Or here's something we hear: I stopped going there because I wasn't being fed. Now, we understand that there are some places of worship that unfortunately do not teach God's word the way they were commissioned to do from God. We get that. But sometimes what's behind that, that I stopped going there because I wasn't being fed is a consumer mindset and you almost have to ask is there a backstory to that, that sounds like this: What, you can't feed yourself? I would imagine that if I have a consumer mindset coming in here - you must feed me - that I'd be awful hungry by now. That I've been starving myself all week long and expecting someone else to feed me for me. And that's o.k. if you're a baby Christian. But when you've been walking with God for a while and you can't figure out a way to feed yourself then you're not laying hold of that for which Christ laid hold of you.
So why did Christ lay hold of Paul? I got my answer this morning. My son always will text me. Jonathan will always text me when I'm communicating and he said these words: Make much of Jesus. Dad, make much of Jesus. Kind of a neat note to hear from your son. But that's the message that Paul was hearing from God. Why did Christ lay hold of Paul? So that Paul would make much of Jesus.
The simple realty is this: the more you want to know Christ, the more you become like him. And the more you are like him the more you will make much of him. But Paul realized that wasn't for Paul alone that God wanted to do that. God will never be involved in your life for you alone. God grabbed a hold of Paul so that Paul would make much of Jesus so that other people would know him as well. And that's what Pastor Leroy was saying a moment ago as well. God wants to grab a hold of your heart and turn it in such a way that you will make much of Jesus wherever you are this week so that other people will know him as well. And you can't make much of Jesus if you don't know him. You just can't.
Here's the third thing I see in this text. I leave my past behind. I leave my past behind. Paul is always a fascinating writer to me. And the way he says things is so interesting because he says in verse thirteen but one thing I do - the I do is not in the Greek - but one thing, and then he mentions two things. That's just like Paul. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. So he says this one thing and then he mentions two things. Why? Because you cannot strain forward as a runner if you are having your head turned backwards. Paul says I'm not going to run my race with my head turned backward. I'm going towards the prize. Every runner knows that. Every runner knows that.
I remember when Jonathan was eight, we were bike riding. It might have been one of the last times we ever rode bikes together. Actually, the very last time we rode bikes was when Jonathan got his permit when he was sixteen because Jonathan still to this day can never figure out why anybody would pedal somewhere when you can ride a car. But he was eight years old. We were riding a bike. In a move of bad parenting he was behind me and we ended up on a very busy intersection. I was very, very uncomfortable with that so I kept on turning back. So I turned back to make sure he was o.k. and when I did that I veered off course, went over a curb, flipped off my bike and ended up in the emergency room.
You can't run a race that way. Paul recognizes - that's why he said forgetting those things which are behind I strain forward. For Paul, the past was his religious past that we talked about last week. For you, it might be who you were before you came to Christ. And you can't shake it. You just can't shake that past and you find yourself circling back to that over and over again because you just can't figure out a way to leave it behind.
Karl Menninger, very famous psychiatrist in the 1970's said this: I could empty 75% of all beds in mental hospitals tomorrow if I could just convince the people in them that their sins could be forgiven. This book and the person who wrote it, God, says your sins can be forgiven. And it's not so much, I wonder if God can forgive me, my dear friend - God already has.
And it is time for some of you to leave your past in the seat that you're sitting in, get up in just a minute, and leave it behind and say I'm done with my past. I'm not the person I was. I don't have to be the person I was. I've been redeemed and I am going to strain towards that which is ahead. Someone should have said Amen. But that's o.k.
Here's the fourth thing that I see. I recognize there is one prize, therefore, one pursuit. I recognize that there's one prize, therefore, one pursuit. Paul says in verse fourteen I press on - again a runner's term - I lunge forward towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. There are not a multiple prizes. There's one prize. And I recognize there is one prize therefore one pursuit. And the prize is to know Christ so I can become like him. When you have other pursuits, when you have other pursuits - guarantee, you will compartmentalize your spiritual life. You have to. You have to put it in a compartment.
It's almost like my ministry assistant Joe Grippi. Everybody knows Joe. He's always at the information center. Joe is my assistant. And so in the morning sometimes I'll come by and say, Joe, what are you doing? And he says, he says it this way: I have my renovation institute hat on. Meaning that all the activity that he's involved with right now has something to do with the renovation institute hat. Or I have my singles hat on. Or we have a conference in September, I have that hat on. I didn't know I hired a cowboy that's got to wear all sorts of hats. This is Joe. But I understand that when he's got that hat on, he's lazered in on that particular priority and not on anything else.
There's a lot of people who come to a place like this or even watching online who might be saying you know what, what happens when I'm pulling into this place is I got my spiritual hat on and I will give God attention for however long this particular service lasts. But as soon as the communicator indicates that the service is over, I take the spiritual hat off until next Sunday. Sometimes even before we get out of the parking lot.
But it's not supposed to be that way. Your spiritual life is not a hat that you wear and that you take off. It is your life. That's why we started off this series that way. Christ is your life and therefore Christ has everything to do with what kind of husband I am. What kind of dad I am. What kind of grandfather I am. What kind of friend I am. What kind of employee I am. What kind of person I am. Christ has everything to do with that. The pursuit of Christ has everything to do with it.
I cannot compartmentalize my spiritual life. If I do that, I'll end up like the guy on the Ed Sullivan show with those poles with the plates on top and you're trying to spin them and keep them spinning. Is that your life? In fact, would you not admit that maybe a good description of your life right now is that it is very, very complicated. And is it complicated because of the choices you've made and the relationships that you're in? And in fact, not only would someone say that your life is complicated, but that you're complicated.
I've got to be honest with you. When someone says that your life is complicated and that you're complicated, it's not a compliment. It's not. It means that you have way too many pursuits other than Christ. That's why Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 - seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Please do not think that Jesus is saying, seek first the kingdom, and then second your family, and then thirdly this, and then fourthly this. Jesus is not in favor of compartmentalizing your life with him. He's saying seek him only so that as a husband I am seeking Christ only. He is my pursuit. I pursue nothing else. If you seek other things and Christ too, as my son often says that you see Christ as an add-on to your life, your life will always be complicated.
There's one other thing I see in this passage. At least I live up to where God has brought me. I live up to where God has brought me. This is Paul's advice as he closes this section up and moves into the part that Pastor Leroy talked about. Verse 15. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. A mature view is to say I'm done playing spiritual games. I can take you to the point and the place in my life, not when I arrived, but when I said I am done playing spiritual games and viewing my spiritual life as a roller coaster. I can take you to the place when I finally decided this is crazy. I have to decide that I'm going to pursue Christ and Christ alone. I can take you to that place. A mature view is saying I'm done playing those kind of games. A mature view is to ask the question what has God already taught me? Or maybe a better question is what has God tried to teach me and I just haven't been listening and now I'm ready.
You see this is why on the back of this note page, you've taken some notes hopefully of some things that God has taught you during this hour, but right above it is not filler. It's some questions. It's some passages of scripture so that starting right now and through this week you can at least live up to what God has tried to teach you today instead of taking the spiritual hat off and forgetting about it. You see, I would imagine that if we're in a rough place, and we can't say that Christ is our only pursuit, it's because there's a lot of stuff in between the things that God has been trying to tell us and stuff that get in the way. And we've got to decide, I have decided to follow Jesus. Tomorrow morning when I wake up, the words out of my mouth is I have decided to follow Jesus. He is my pursuit.
So in closing, figuratively, some people did this literally in the first service. I said look at your feet. Figuratively, look at your feet, and look at the race that you're running and now look up and see to the very best of your spiritual capacity the end line in that race that you're running. And there's only two people that I really care about. You and the Holy Spirit and what he's saying to you. But as you look at the end of the race of your life do you see Jesus Christ there? Do you see Christ very clearly? Is Christ your future? And that's why everything we've said so far is so important. Because if Christ is not your life, Christ will never be your future. If Christ is not your Savior, Christ will never be your future. If Christ is not your confidence, then Christ will not be your future. And if Christ is not your pursuit, how do you know that Christ will be your future? You can't. And so if you do not see Christ, it may be that Christ is not there. And as Pastor Leroy has talked about this morning, if Christ is not the end, then Christ is not part of your future and you have a Christ-less future and nothing in the bible describes that as good. And it may be that you today need to give your life to Christ.
But for many of us, as we look at that race, what we might see, we're hoping Christ is on the other side, but there's too much stuff in the middle. There's too much stuff in the way. Maybe for you, yeah I'm hoping that Christ is on the other side but right now, boy, I really care about that 401 and I really care about that retirement fund and I really care about setting up my life well and then I'll pursue Christ. Or you know what? The kids are young. We've got this thing going on, this family thing going, and right now it's really heavy on us but someday I'm going to pursue Christ. And so he might be there but I just don't see him. You need to make the decision that we all need to make. I'm going to clear that out of the way and I'm going to pursue Christ.
Christ will make you a better husband or wife. Christ will make you a better parent. Christ will make you a better friend. Christ will make you a better employer or employee. Christ will change your life but you need to decide that you are going to pursue him and him only.
So if you're hoping and praying and believing and trusting that Christ is your future, will you make the decision as I need to - that Christ is your pursuit.
Let's pray. Maybe I'll ask a different question in closing. That people who know you very, very well. You know who they are. The people who know you very well, would they say as they evaluate your life that the most important thing in your life is your pursuit of Christ? There's no sense fooling yourself. No sense lying to yourself. No sense lying to the Holy Spirit. He knows your heart. He knows my heart. Can you honestly say that Christ is your only pursuit? If not, when will you make him your pursuit? When will you decide I'm done playing games and I'm going to make him my pursuit? I encourage you - I encourage you to have a conversation with Christ and say, God would you show me any obstacle that is in my way right now of pursuing Christ because I want Christ alone, because I believe that it will change every part of my life.
So Father, we pray as we close, that you would convince me of this reality, you would convince us of this reality, that because I want Christ to be my future, I must make him my only pursuit. May I lay aside every hindrance and pursue Christ alone because that is what you have called me to do, to make much of Jesus. May I do it well this week as I run the race you've called me to do. We pray this in Christ's name, amen. Thank you everyone. You have a great week. God bless you.