Philippians 2:16 “…holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
“Black Friday.” You’ve been convinced by marketing geniuses that your salary is the only thing keeping your favorite store solvent (“in the Black”) rather than “in the red” (in debt, marked with red ink in ancient ledgers). So being enticed there at 4 am on the day after Thanksgiving, when you’re still feeling like a stuffed turkey yourself, to get a toddler-sized Barbie doll that usually sells for $100 on sale on “Black Friday…for a limited time only!” only for $50 actually seems reasonable. You happily battle through hordes of others who you imagine see the same glow of glory in some daughter, granddaughter or niece’s eyes on Christmas morning that you do in yours.
Only to realize after all the rushing, pushing and possible bloodshed that you’re at the wrong store. And that the time limit and dolls at the right store are gone.
Human beings imagine themselves in a lot of competitions; races for one thing or another. “Rat races” at work, marathons for fitness, “paper chase” races for degrees, competitions for which sibling will get or do one thing or another first, even virtual races in our living rooms on TV or against video games. But we too often miss the real race of our lives, the race to finish mortal life well and break victoriously through the dark ribbon of death into eternity.
That’s what today’s verse is about. The Apostle Paul, who has been leading us through the blindingly optimistic book of Philippians, suddenly brings us through this dark thought that we may turn around at the finish line and find we’ve been running in the wrong lane and disqualified ourselves.
Today is Advent, the beginning of the Christmas season when Christians (and others, unwittingly) celebrate the birth of JESUS Christ. This can be your starting point to really examine over these next few weeks the claims He made that He came so that you can have abundant Life, that while He lived among us as a human being He still retained Oneness with GOD the Father. That eternal life is to know the only true GOD, the GOD the prophets of Israel describe throughout the Bible, and He Himself, the fulfillment of those prophecies. And that He came to rescue you from the mess of your own making into eternal joy by exchanging His completed perfection for you no longer needing to be perfect.
Do you believe in Jesus? What do you believe? Why? Why not? Why do you think so many others have believed and literally given up everything for Him? Why not take these next few weeks to get to know Him for yourself (perhaps in a new way), talking to Him in prayer. Asking Him to show you, even if it seems silly. Reading about Him in the Gospel of John. And discovering what those Christmas carols really mean.
Today is the starting point. Let this message be the starting pistol to get you on track for the only race that matters.