Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Journey or Destination

Submitted by Kerry Patton
7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ…” Philippians 3:7-9a

Ralph Waldo Emerson is famously quoted as having said: “Life is a journey, not a destination.”  To which my friend and brother in Christ, Bennett Creed replied: “Life is a journey and not a destination eh? Tell that to a man about to fall over a cliff…Don’t worry about it…it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey!” Well, let’s explore this a bit.
Life is a Destination 
In reading Philippians chapter 3 above, we get a sense that the Apostle Paul has his eyes on the prize, don’t we.  No matter the cost, no matter what he must go through, his destination is to know Christ Jesus.  In fact, he considers all other things to be essentially garbage to reach this goal.  And he is not incorrect to take that position.  He is energized, it seems, by the consideration that one day soon, he “may be found” in Jesus “not having a righteousness” of his own, but having fully manifested the righteousness of God in Christ, through Christ.  Life is about the destination, and the destination is to be like Jesus…to love like Jesus.  Nothing else matters.  Or does it? Or to clarify…is it only the destination that matters?
Life is a Journey
1 Corinthians 1:1-3 displays destinations of sort:  Attaining the ability to speak in the tongues of men and angels, attaining the ability to prophecy, attaining all wisdom and knowledge of all mysteries, proving my selflessness by giving the poor all I have, attaining such great faith that I can speak to mountains and they are removed… And if each of these could be viewed as destinations, then could we not also speak of love as the journey?  Love is that which I do and am to do…all along the way.  Love is not a destination.  Love is a journey.  The passage makes it clear that without love, nothing else matters.  No matter what I have, no matter what I achieve, no matter to what I attain, without love…it is all in vain.  I think there is wisdom in the consideration that without the journey, the destination is equally empty.

So, it isn’t “either or”. It is really “Both/And” isn’t it.  Life is both a Destination AND a Journey.  As we continue in Philippians chapter 3 we read:
12Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
Here we see the Apostle’s insight into Christian maturity as journey and destination…effectively hand-in-hand.  Yes, his eyes are on the prize, but he is ON the journey toward Christ-likeness. 
Years ago, I was speaking with my friend Mr. Shirley Leech.  Mr. Leech was a retired school teacher who had grown up in and spent his life teaching school and driver’s education in Parker County.  At the time of our conversation, Shirley was celebrating his 90th birthday.  I inquired of his own journey: “Shirley, here you are having lived 90 years.  Candidly, I am your pastor…but you have been a man of God longer than I have even been alive.  I make no pretense that I am ahead of you in Christian maturity.  Let me ask you this.  Is there that point in your live…can you put your finger on that year or time when you can now look back and say: “It was at this point that I attained maturity in the faith?””  Mr. Leech laughed out loud and replied: “No.  In my experience, you don’t ever reach that point.”  I asked him to clarify.  Was he saying that Christian maturity is a myth??  “Christian maturity is a journey, not a destination.” He said.  “My prejudices are not the same as they were when I was 25.  I am not tempted by the same things I was even 25 years ago.  Life changes.  You change.”  He added: “Christian maturity seems to be how we grow, learn, and adapt as life and times change.  Life deals you the cards it deals you, and Christianity maturity is playing those cards to the best of your ability in that way which you can best understand and display the person and Gospel of Christ.” 
So, live is both journey AND destination.  And for us, Christian life is not only learning everything we can about the faith in life, but living those things we learn, and touching lives in the Name of Christ to the best of our ability all through life. 


Father God, by your grace and power, keep our eyes on the prize.  But also keep them open every step of the way…all through our journey.  Help us to watch for  and appreciate the beauty and wisdom of each day.  And let us not waste one while anticipating the next, but live them all for you. Every moment.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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