I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Perseverance is not about me. That’s my new discovery this morning as I think about the perseverance of Jesus Christ especially on the day of his brutal death.
I watched a little bit of The Passion of the Christ last night and woke this morning thinking of the pain Jesus endured and the emotions that he most likely experienced. We talk so much about how Jesus died for “me.” As I pondered his death this morning, I realized how self-centered even that thought is. Yes, his death benefited all mankind but he could not, and would not have persevered out of love for mankind without having an even greater passion for the purposes of God and the plan of life.
Jesus is fully God AND he is fully human. There was a humanness to Jesus that endured the pain. And it is the Spirit of God in him that strengthened his human flesh with the will to persevere. It is that same Spirit that strengthens me to persevere but I can’t want it for me. That purpose is not great enough. I must want it out of a love for God.
Like Paul, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of [that which Christ Jesus took hold of me].” But I want to want (yes, that wording is intended) to strain toward what is ahead. I’m recognizing more than ever that I don’t have it in my humanness to persevere for God’s plan. The humanness in me desires comfort far more than recognition for achievement. And I believe even if I were one who desired recognition, the perseverance for the sake of recognition would not be enough to satisfy. That kind of recognition seems to leave people still wanting something more.
Without love, all the good we do is meaningless (1 Corinthians 13). As wonderful as it feels to love other people, even that love can be rejected and limits our perseverance. Our love must first be for God. Our passion must first be for his plans regardless of how his plans impact my present personal comfort. Do I love God that much? Do you?
Take time today to think about the humanness of Jesus and his passion for God’s plan. His death allowed us to receive the Spirit of God by canceling out all mankind’s self-centered desire to achieve our own goals. We cannot live by God’s plan and our plan at the same time. We cannot live for God’s plan out of our own strength. It takes perseverance that is beyond our humanness.
As I said, I have not yet achieved this consistent reliance on the Holy Spirit but this one thing I try to do daily: forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead to win the prize for which God has created me. He has created me to love him above my own comfort and recognition. He has called me to receive the power that empowered Jesus Christ to endure unthinkable suffering. That same power is the power of God’s Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead and will also raise us from the dead to a life that is greater than we can imagine. It is worth the perseverance. Jesus showed us that in everything he did.
Read Isaiah 53 and Philippians 3 over this Easter weekend. Look at Jesus in pain. Try to feel the pain. It wasn’t first for you. It was first for God and the plan of life for all creation. Try to grasp the love of God’s plan that motivated the man Jesus to persevere.