Recently our Church celebrated 30yrs of ministry – our 30th Church Anniversary. It was good to take a brief look at how God had preserved and provided for this Church to bring us to this day. Although we can celebrate the past and rejoice in what God has done over 30yrs, we cannot pride ourselves in, or place our confidence in, past accomplishments. That applies to you personally just as much as to the church. It’s self-righteousness. It leads a church into irrelevance. What Paul had accomplished in the past was irrelevant in knowing Jesus and what Jesus wanted to do. The past is over. Now is the time to seek God to create a new future.
Paul develops this exact idea in vv13-14: “… 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.” (Phil 3:13-14) What Paul had done in the past was not going to get him to the future where Jesus wants him to go. In the same way, what our Church has done in the past is not going to get us to the future Jesus has for us. It’s time to move on, to lean in and stretch forward to what’s ahead. It’s a word picture of a runner straining or stretching out his chest at the end of the race to cross the finish line. Every effort is put into what God has called Paul to do, enabled him to do, empowered him to do. He’s not going to let anything stop him, anything distract him, or anything derail him from the prize of eternal life with Jesus in heaven. Paul strives toward the vision of a new future. This is exactly what WE are to do. God has given us the vision of a new future. It’s a vision for our time and our place. Not only has God given us a vision to accomplish, but he has provided the tools and the fuel to get us there. He has provided his Spirit. He has brought each of you here to serve as he has gifted you. He has enabled us to donate funds toward the vision. Through committed people the Lord is developing the strategy he wants us to follow. Let’s not get distracted. Let’s not let discouragement, frustration, or other people derail us from the future God has for us.
When I say other people, that could be skeptics… doubters… people unwilling to respond and say yes to an invitation… people who we want to see participate but just don’t seem to be committed. We want them to get behind this vision of a new future, but they just won’t do what we want them to do! My wife and I were discussing this very thing last week, and this question came to my mind: Can I love people even if they don’t do what I want them to do? This is really something to ponder, to think about. We can get off-track and be derailed if we’re always upset or thinking about the people who don’t do what we want them to do. People who only show up occasionally or only when it’s convenient for them people who don’t contribute… or who don’t serve… or who don’t pray… people who aren’t inspired or motivated. Every pastor I know would be totally derailed in their ministry if those are the people they focused on.
Listen, Jesus didn’t come to get people to do what he wanted them to do. He came to show us the way, the truth and the life. Jesus loved even the very people who put him to death on a cross. Jesus loved even those who turned away from him (like the rich young man). Jesus came to reveal the Father. He came to serve, not to be served. He came so we would have abundant life. He came to give his life and pay the price for our sin. Don’t get derailed by trying to get people to do what you want them to do. Instead, show them Jesus! This is the way to Go Beyond 30… and avoid getting derailed. Show them Jesus and share the love.