Friday after Populus Sion, The Second Sunday in Advent
Scripture: Philippians 3:12-16 (NKJV)
3:12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
Faith and love are not perfected in this life. The goal is not reached here. As long as we carry around our sinful flesh our faith will be imperfect and our love for others will be tainted with the sinful devotion to self.
But, as Paul knew, that’s no reason to give up! Martin Luther’s words reflect the meaning of the apostle: “This life is not godliness, but growth in godliness; not health, but healing; not being, but becoming; not rest, but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way; the process is not yet finished, but it has begun; this is not the goal, but it is road; at present all does not gleam and glitter, but everything is being purified” (Luther’s Works, vol. 32, pg. 24).
The goal toward which we are pressing will be worth all the sighing and struggling and wrestling. The goal is to live under Christ in His heavenly kingdom, to serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, to live forever in the perfect love of God and in the perfect love that every citizen of heaven will have and show toward one another, without the weight of sin to diminish it.
That goal was already purchased for us by our Lord Jesus. We press on, not to earn it, but to arrive at it. We run the race, not to win God’s grace, but because God has made us His own through Holy Baptism and has set us on this path, to pursue faith and love with our whole being until He Himself perfects us in the life to come.
We pray: O God, mercifully grant us Your grace, that we, running the way of Your commandments, may be made partakers of Your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.