Several verses in the New Testament present the Christian life as a race. The apostle Paul often used this analogy to describe his own spiritual experience (1 Corinthians 9:24, Timothy 4:7, Hebrews 12:1). However, in Philippians 3:16, he changes his approach:
“Nevertheless, to the extent that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule. Let us be of the same mind.”(World Standard Version)
As we look at this verse in the greater context of Philippians, we see that Paul speaks of two aspects of the Christian life. First, he refers to a common arrival point. As I reflect, I can see many such arrival points for our own international fellowship. I see our unity, our partnership, our common goals, our hope and our foundation. Above all, I see that despite our shortcomings and weaknesses, we are a redeemed family saved by grace. For Paul, this arrival point is not a place to stop, but rather to begin walking “by the same rule…of the same mind.”
In contrast to the usual image of a race, this word “walk” invites us to think more about others than ourselves. When we run, we don’t pay attention to those on the side of the road, because our gaze is directed only towards our goal. However, Paul is inviting the Philippians to walk, and to do so in step with their brothers and sisters.
His invitation is as much for the Philippians as it is for us today. It means slowing down to take note of what is happening around us. It means taking the hand of those who cannot run at the same speed. It means above all to walk in step with one another so that together we can reach the finish line.
This year has brought many challenges to our movement. We have learned, dear brothers and sisters, that if we have a common struggle to face and a common mission to pursue, we must walk in step with one another, showing perseverance and patience towards those who walk with us. Indeed, to walk in step is to also build together.
By God’s grace, we rejoice for our new General Secretary, Tim Adams. Let’s be mindful that our fellowship is not the fellowship of one specific person. It is our responsibility to support and stand with Tim as he leads. I invite you to pray for him and his family – for wisdom and strength.
During this Christmas time, I have been thinking about how God decided to stop and take our hands. He knew that we are not able to run after him, so he has walked with us. May His grace inspire the way our movements think, help, support, pray and persevere in our relationships. I pray that this Christmas spirit will remain in us and strengthen our fellowship in the coming year. And as we walk together on the path towards Christ, let us keep Him as our centre here below and as our goal in glory.
Let’s pray together for our fellowship as we enter the new year:
- Pray for Tim Adams as he begins the new role as General Secretary. Pray for wisdom, courage, and great discernment about where God would lead IFES in the year ahead.
- Pray for renewed strength for ministry in 2021 throughout the fellowship after all of the challenges of 2020.
- Pray for unity within the fellowship as we explore and embrace God’s call for the next chapter of our ministry together.