Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus — Philippians 3:12 (KJV)
He is one of the most impactful individuals who ever walked this planet. Two millennia after he lived, his legacy continues to grow exponentially. It would be hard to over-estimate the impact he has had on humanity.
The man in focus is none other than the Apostle Paul. Tireless church planter, apostolic father figure, and (human) author of half the New Testament, he leaves an example worthy of emulation. The secret of his world-changing success is found in the third chapter of Philippians.
So far, we have learned:
Principle One: Grace brings world-change;
Principle Two: Righteousness brings world-change - when you change into the righteous image of Christ, you are then empowered to be an agent of change to the world.
Principle Three: Knowing Christ. Christ is such a powerful, singular figure that knowing Him brings empowerment in return.
In this article, we will focus on Principle Four, which is found in the above-verse.
It was enough to take your breath away.
During a trip to the USA my family and I chose to ride on the appropriately named roller coaster called ‘California Screaming,’ which is part of the California Adventure, right next to the Disneyland complex in Anaheim, California USA. Some parts of the ride go several stories upwards and, within meters, several stories downward. There is a least one part of the track that is a ‘corkscrew.’
While the car on the roller coaster was stationary, we sat calmly and peacefully. But when it began to move, it shot forth like a bolt out of the blue. Not only did it speed at 300 kph but it quickly ascended the ramp. Then, like lightning, it started to roll around bends and curves at frightful speeds. Not only did the women scream with gusto, but so did the men. With our stomachs in our throats, it seemed like the experience was everlasting. Truth is, the whole thing lasted less than two minutes.
Question: When you go through such an experience, what do you do with you hands?
Answer: Take hold of the safety bar until your knuckles turn white! This ‘taking hold’ or ‘apprehending’ is exactly what you do when you want to change the world!
Paul was a gifted man with impeccable credentials. He was born of the stock of Israel, tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a student of the respected rabbi Gamaliel, a Pharisee, and blameless in keeping the law. He spoke several languages, had a good profession, and carried Roman citizenship.
Question: Which of these traits helped him to change the world?
Answer: None of the above
He says, Philippians 3:7-8
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss ….
Amazingly, in order to gain success in Christ, Paul had to lose everything. Not just the bad, derelict, sinful, unregenerate things, but also the good, valuable, and profitable things. Paul had to lose everything … the good, bad, and ugly … in order to gain Christ and change the world.
Like the terrified rider on the California Screaming roller coaster, Paul’s secret of changing the world is disarmingly the same: learn to let go of everything so that you can take hold of the most important thing. For the rider, it is the safety bar. For the believer, it is Jesus Christ Himself and His plan for your life..
In Philippians 3:12, the word for ‘apprehend’ is also called katalambano (Greek), which means ‘to lay hold, to possess, to seize, overtake, attain, come upon, comprehend, perceive, find, to appropriate, to obtain the prize.’ It is what a policeman does when captures a criminal.
Everybody is holding on to something: it can be a relationship, material possession, money, thought-patterns, attitudes (good, bad, and ugly) and so on. Our grip can often be tighter than a crab’s claw.
World-change comes when we learn to let go of everything so we are ‘hands-free’ to take hold of Christ and His purpose for our lives. That’s exactly what Paul did - he counted all things, including the ‘good things,’ as dung, that he may lay hold of Christ and win the prize.
TO BE CONTINUED