Street Cred

What are your goals? Do you ever sit and ponder that question? This is a question I ask married couples who come to me for counseling. I try to ascertain the depth of their commitment to each other and to the counseling process. The question often reveals things that forecast the potential outcome of the process.

Many times we get complacent in some of the aspects of our life and stop working toward certain goals. If retirement is your goal, what will you do when you get there? If a promotion is your goal, what will be your next aspiration when you’ve gotten it? We encourage our kids to have goals in sports and schools, but I wonder how many of us encourage them set goals for their married lives and their spiritual lives?

Do you have spiritual goals?

Paul did.

In the third chapter of Philippians, Paul wrote to his friends about his process of becoming a Christ-follower. He began with a long litany of how he got to where he was at that moment. This is an interesting look at Paul’s “street cred,” or street credentials if you will. It almost seems a tad braggadocios, but truly Paul has earned that right!

Philippians 3 (Common English Bible)

though I have good reason to have this kind of confidence. If anyone else has reason to put their confidence in physical advantages, I have even more:

I was circumcised on the eighth day.

I am from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin.

I am a Hebrew of the Hebrews.

With respect to observing the Law, I’m a Pharisee.

With respect to devotion to the faith, I harassed the church.

With respect to righteousness under the Law, I’m blameless.

Now Paul shifts his list to a more theological exploration of what the past became in light of his present reality. All of the things he lost in order to follow Christ are now considered “sewer trash,” and all the things he gained have led him to pursuing the goal of the resurrection:

These things were my assets, but I wrote them off as a loss for the sake of Christ. But even beyond that, I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ and be found in him. In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. 10 The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death 11 so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead.

Here is the kicker. Paul had completely given his life to Christ, but he still had goals. He still pursued Christ. He still pursued the prize of God’s upward call. He was reaching, learning, growing, and striving to put the past behind him and reach for the things ahead of him:

12 It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. 13 Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. 14 The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.

Are you letting things in your past hold you back? Is God telling you to let go?

Do you continue to have spiritual goals, or has a complacent attitude taken over?

It is never too late to reach for Christ. It is never too late to change. It is never too late to walk away from the old things and vigorously pursue a new life.

So sign up for that Bible study! Get sober! Go on the mission trip! Grow your bangs out! Volunteer to help with the youth! You are never too young or too old, and as long as you’re still breathing, it’s never too late.

Morning Clouds by Vic Miles

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