Paul pleads with the Philippians to stay focused and not forget the progress they have made. He shares his desire to press on in hopes they will do the same. He knows he won’t reach perfection until he is with Christ, but that doesn’t stop him from reaching for it. Paul wants “to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.” So do I, but before I can experience a resurrection, I have to die to self.
I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made. (Philippians 3:10-16 NLT)
Paul sees the progress made by the Philippians slipping away in the midst of arguments. Possessing perfection is not the goal; pressing in the direction of Christ is. Following Jesus is about transformation, and that means becoming spiritually mature. Growing up. Holiness is the goal, and that does not mean perfection. The word translated as ‘holy’ means maturity, ripeness, or readiness in Greek. Christ wants us to be ripe, not perfect.
Those who follow Christ argue over the inane. I can give myself a different name, adhere to a different doctrine, try a new denomination, and take pride in my piety or my mess. It doesn’t matter which end of the spectrum I come from, I still must press toward Christ’s love. Perfection is in His precious love. It possesses my heart in a powerful way that makes me want to love as He loves.
Christ is perfect so I don’t have to be. God is a loving Father who loves His children and wants them to grow in His Son’s precious love. That’s as perfect as it gets in this world.