This post is adapted from Executive Pastor Pat Antcliff’s messages at the C3 Oxford Falls 10am and 6pm services on Sunday 25 February. Watch the messages here.
"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."
Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
God’s heart for people is that we do well; that we flourish.
In this Thrive series we’ve talked about how we are designed to be connected to God, connected to those around us in the church and to the church’s task of connecting people who don’t know God to Him.
Our vision at C3 is that people know Jesus, are in community with believers and find their purpose.
Purpose is a really big deal. Purpose is the answer to those eternal questions “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?”, “Where am I going?” “What am I doing with my life?”. No matter where you live or what you have, studies have linked purposelessness to high rates of depression.
Purpose is vital in all areas of our life and at all stages of our lives too, from school to retirement. When we know and serve Jesus, we can have a certain and unshakeable purpose.
Philippians was written by the Apostle Paul, urging the church there not to return to the ways of the Old Testament. In the passage above Paul refers to “this”, something that Paul has not yet gained. In a previous verse, he explains what “this” is:
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8 (NIV).
If a giant of the faith like the Apostle Paul hasn’t arrived at his goal yet, then we can certainly have a go and make a difference too. Don’t look back, the past doesn’t matter, press on and take a hold of knowing Jesus.
Ps Pat shared his experience of being terrified of public speaking in school. So when he became a Christian in high school, he avoided prayer meetings, resisting all requests to speak in front of others. But he knew God had called him to it, so one day he said yes to God, to serving Him the way God wanted him to.
The very next day, Ps Pat was asked to share his testimony of coming to know Jesus in front of a group. As he began, in obedience to God, he was enabled and people came to know Jesus through it! If we press on in serving God, all the power of Heaven is there to help us do it.
So how do we step into serving?
Matthew 5:13-16 records what Jesus said to those who were already in a relationship with Him: you are the salt of the earth. That means we are to bring flavour, preservation and goodness to our world.
When the church gathers we are a city on a hill, visible to all. We also gather in smaller groups during the week, building relationships of trust so that when difficult times come we can support each other. We gather so we can scatter. We are salt and light to the world: we ‘go out’ each week with purpose.
Going into the world on purpose means two things:
• Firstly that we pray about it: pray for God to move in the lives of your colleagues and neighbours;
• Secondly, it means you are probably out of your depth and so we ask for those in our connect groups to pray for us and with us.
We serve when the church gathers too. People don’t usually describe church as having a “hotel-vibe” where a few professionals serve all the needs of the others. People say it feels like home and that means everyone has a part to play. Make some time this week to read Joshua 5.
Joshua, a new leader is facing the possible annihilation of his people, and he is confronted with meeting the commander of the Lords army. Joshua asks “are you for us or our enemies? The response is “neither”.
The Lord required Joshua’s obedience. Often we ask God, what is my purpose, what have I been put on this earth to do. God’s response is the reverse of these questions. Seek MY purpose, for I have called you.
That is how you live on purpose: be on God’s side.