Today I started the Augustine Institute’s Forgiven series. Powerful. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it (at least the first session, which is all I have done so far).
We talked about how sin separates us from God — not earth shattering news, I know. But it’s not just the sin, but our response to it which separates us. We separate ourselves from God by doubting his love for us when we sin. God didn’t turn away from Adam and Eve when they sinned — he went to them, called out to them: “Where are you?” He doesn’t turn away from us when we sin either. But we turn away from Him (just as Adam and Eve turned away from God and tried to hide). We doubt Him. I guess because we try to equate Him to humans. What if we went to Him right away and confessed — we generally know when we have done wrong — what if we turned to Him right away, instead of turning even father away and hiding, making excuses, blaming others or otherwise putting off reconciliation with God. Seems so easy and yet I know personally so hard.
But every time we forget, every time we sin, every time we turn away, God is still there calling after us: “Where are you?” He is waiting for us to turn back — with open arms. Every time. (I told you — powerful!)
We also talked about the struggle and conflict between worldly “virtues” and rewards (what the world views as good and successful) and true virtues and the ultimate reward with God.
This evening when I opened the Bible, I landed here:
[But] whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and [the] sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus]. Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus. Let us, then, who are “perfectly mature” adopt this attitude. And if you have a different attitude, this too God will reveal to you. Only, with regard to what we have attained, continue on the same course.
Philippians 3: 7-16
Paul’s letters are always particularly effective for me. This one highlighted (again) the conflict between what the world may see as good and what is truly good. Whatever gains I have on earth may be meaningless — that is hard to accept. But when I think about it, it is so clearly true. Everything on earth is meaningless without God.
I turn to you. Help me not be distracted by worldly things — false gods. Turn me back to you when I do.