City of God – The Pursuit
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”
There is something extravagant and unfettered in this love for Christ. Those with measured responses, and dry and passionless expressions, despise such lavish outpourings. Even the disciples were offended by Mary’s unrestrained worship as she broke open the alabaster box and poured out its contents upon the person of Jesus.
Salvation and the Kingdom of God
Those who truly discover His “surpassing worth” know the heartbeat of true love. It is one thing to know of His salvation and to taste His forgiveness; it is another thing altogether to know Him experientially. The salvation of Christ is an unmerited wonder received by all who call upon Him. It brings health, healing, and forgiveness to those who taste His goodness.
Jesus in His discussion with Nicodemus declared:
“Except a man be born again,
he cannot see the kingdom of God”
Jesus continues to lay out the deeper truths of His call.
“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
There is a vast difference between “seeing” the Kingdom of God and “entering” its dominion. “Seeing” is the result of the gift of God in Christ. “Entering” is the result of love’s pure desire to seek “first HIS Kingdom” and “His righteousness”. There is an intrinsic need birthed in those who understand the difference between seeing a thing and having a thing.
This inherent cry burned within Paul’s heart.
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own”
No one can question Paul’s salvation but there was something deeper at work within him. There was a need, a quest, a pursuit to make the Risen Christ his own; where every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5) was brought into obedience, every aspect of his life subservient to the will of God in Christ. He states unequivocally:
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal…”
He makes this statement humbly and unashamedly. He is not here to impress others with his accomplishments; he is here to obtain the fulness of Christ in the here and now. This pursuit was not the product of Paul’s self-generated efforts. It was the fruit of the Love of God filling him with the purity of purpose and desire.
Many will avoid this pursuit for it is the way of the cross. We gain by loss; we receive by giving and we find life by dying to ourselves. It is a narrow way and Jesus declared that there would be few who find it.
“how narrow [is] the gate, and compressed the way that is leading to life, and few are those finding it!”
Matthew 7:14 (LSV)
It is the “if” that characterizes discipleship and the entrance into His Kingdom.
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Choices and determinations within the heart of His own bring them to the path of HIS Kingdom. The Bride of Christ knows full well the cost. Her dependence upon Him is her hope and anchor. Only the grip of His mercy can create a living sacrifice worthy of His acceptance.
“I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship”
To Be Continued
An excerpt from a series
Titled the City of God