Technology at your fingertips. That's the day in which we live.
Yesterday evening Shannan and I were out for a walk. We're in the foothills of the Ozarks so our path was decidedly uphill. Curious, I wondered what our altitude was. No problem. I pulled out my phone, found an app, downloaded it, and had my answer within a few steps.
It's a great day to be alive!
The delights and conveniences of "this day," make it hard to think of a "better day." But there is a better day coming — the day of Christ. We know it because, despite said delights and conveniences, nothing this side of eternity ultimately satisfies.
Commenting on this conundrum, C.S. Lewis said,
Paul lived with the certainty of "another world." He lived in what theologian describe as the "already/not yet" nature of the life of Christ.
- Already - He who began a good work in you.
- Not yet -- Will bring it to completion (it's not yet complete until the day of Christ).
Thinking about the day of Christ, Martin Luther put it this way,
Like Luther, Paul lived with two days on his calendar. Paul was not so heavenly minded he was no earthly good -- he lived in "Today." But Paul had his sights on "That day." We see this as we examine the whole of his letter to the Philippians:
1:6 — He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
1:10 — Being pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
1:23 — My desire is to depart and be with Christ (far better).
2:16 — Holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
3:13-14 — But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The day of Christ was Paul's internal GPS, pointing him to his ultimate destination.
Have you ever used the GPS on your Maps App? What an amazing device. But just try pulling into a rest stop or getting off the highway for lunch and your GPS will immediately begin barking the order to "Return to the route."
“I know!" I say to that voice, "I’m just stopping to linger for a moment!
But it is as if the GPS is afraid I might linger too long and miss my destination.
I think the same thing happens on the spiritual plane. It can be easy to linger here, to get so caught up in "this day" that we lose sight of “that day.” Apparently that was what was happening among the Philippians. Paul writes:
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Philippians 3:13-16
Why would Paul say, “Only let us hold true to what we have attained” unless he knows we tend to linger too long along the highway of life.
God won’t let us do that. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.” That day is coming. God wants me to live in light of it.
Knowing God's propensity to keep me living with an eye on my eternal home makes me wonder if in some ways:
- The car breaking down.
- The body breaking down.
- The dream breaking down.
- The political hopes and dreams breaking down.
is actually part of the kindness of God reminding us that there is more to life than this life, that he has a better kind of happiness.
As I read Paul's words, I hear God telling me, "Enjoy this day (the car, the health, the country), but don’t linger." And I linger:
- When I’ve lost sight of “that day.”
- When all my happiness is wrapped up in temporary possessions.
- When I have time for a car, but no time for people.
- When I pursue my dreams but I don’t pursue God.
These gifts make us happy, but there is a better kind of happiness that comes from the Giver of the gifts. It is God himself! A happiness that will only be magnified in that day.
So enjoy the journey, but keep your eye on God's better GPS.