In the last post of the year I want bring the Cosmic liminality of living between the times that I talked of yesterday, down to the personal. Paul, in Philippians 3:10-14 speaks for how he experiences this.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But 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.
Paul wants to know Christ, not for all the benefits he can gain by being in fellowship with Christ but all the suffering, death as well as resurrection. He knows that Christ is immeasurably more valuable than his own life and so wants to be part of Christ’s life. This is Paul’s “already”. He already knows Christ but not fully. He is in a liminal period between knowing Christ partially and being completely in fellowship and union with Him.
Paul recognises, however, that he has not made it yet. There is still a “not yet”. So he clings to the hope in Christ and His life, death and resurrection. This is only possible because Christ has already taken hold of him. Paul’s efforts would be all in vain if this was not already the reality.
So Paul takes one more step. Forgetting his successes and failures of the past, Paul looks forward to the full salvation that will come in the future for which God has called him. That is, to be where He is. Paul is very future orientated in his outlook. He has already said that he could boast far more than anybody else about his past, but for Paul, this is irrelevant. The prize of full union with Christ is what he looks forward to.
In the meantime, in this liminal time, Paul knows the ambiguity of his thoughts, his feelings and his efforts. This is not a comfortable time for Paul, he needs to cling on to Christ and he need Christ to take hold of him. There is in the Christian life always an ambiguity, a discomfort and a sense of not belonging here. This is not unusual, if we felt at home now we perhaps have forgotten the eternal home. remade by Christ in the future.
At the end of a year that has brought me personally massive challenges, I want to move forward into the new year and press forward to the “not yet” of 2015 and God’s future.
God bless and a Happy New Year! I’ll be back on 5th January 2015.