Our theme for this month: “Life on this side of the cross”
Our Bible verse for today: “Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “The Christian life is a long obedience in the same direction.”
I believe it was pastor and author Eugene Peterson who originally coined the phrase “a long obedience in the same direction” to describe the Christian life. What he meant was that for the most part, the Christian life consists of simply doing the right things over and over and over again. Those things are usually not spectacular or even noteworthy in any special way. Instead they are mostly small things (but the right things), incorporated into our daily lives and then accomplished faithfully as a matter of routine.
In Philippians 3:12-14 Paul was describing an example of a long obedience in the same direction. In that case he was referring to the process of sanctification in the life of the Christian. Sanctification is the process whereby, over the course of a lifetime, the Holy Spirit slowly and progressively molds you and shapes you into the man or woman God wants you to be. For your part, you must cooperate in that process by incorporating into your daily life the basic disciplines of the Christian life. Those disciplines would include things like prayer, Bible study, scripture memorization, worship, fellowship, acts of service, etc. The more those practices are a regular part of your daily life, the more you are placing yourself in a position before God whereby the Holy Spirit can transform you. That’s a long obedience in the same direction and it’s what Paul was describing in that passage.
In a similar but slightly different way, that same principle applies to all of us right now as we work our way through this COVID 19 pandemic. There are some basic things we all need to be doing, some rules and guidelines we all need to be faithfully following, to get us through this time. We need to stay home as much as possible; we need to cough and sneeze into our sleeves so the germs don’t spread to others; we need to wash our hands frequently; if we feel sick we need to immediately seek medical treatment; and in the middle of it all, we need to remember to bless and encourage others as we seek to help them through this time as well. And also, we need to honor God by the way we conduct ourselves in the middle of this trial.
It’s a long obedience in the same direction that’s required of us right now. We have to patiently exercise basic disciplines, over a period of weeks or perhaps even a couple of months, and if we do, this will pass and we will be through it.
So please, be disciplined, be patient, and do your part.