Eye On It
I feel the deeper callin’ me, all else is fadin’ in the past / So let me run in the race that I know is built to last
Almost two hundred years ago, Scottish minister Thomas Chalmers spoke about the “expulsive power of a new affection.” His point was that the desires of our sinful hearts don’t change just because we feel guilty and promise to “do better next time”. They only change when a new and more powerful love (or affection) replaces the old ones. As our love for Christ increases, Chalmers would say, there’s just naturally less and less room left in our hearts for the things we used to desire.
The apostle Paul said something like that in the third chapter of Philippians. After listing all the accomplishments and status symbols he had once lived for, Paul proclaims that they are now worthless: Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things… Paul’s words ring with the joy of his new affection for Christ. His old ideas about what was important are gone. They’ve been “expelled” by this new love. He has a new focus. There is simply no room left for his old habits and dreams and ways of thinking.
Paul goes on to say: But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. What is behind him is gone. What is before him is Christ—his new affection. And like a runner, willingly enduring the pain of the race because every step brings him closer to his goal, Paul refuses to be moved from his goal by anything in his past or his present. His eyes are on his new affection. His eyes are fixed on Christ.
There’s a deep truth there that as followers of Jesus, we need to grasp. When we stumble, as all of us do, the right solution isn’t to focus on our weakness and double down on our efforts to do better next time. When we stumble, the right response is to humbly focus our eyes once again on our goal, our prize, our new affection: Christ. When we do that, over time our old affections naturally begin to fade.
Copyright 2007 Fellowship for the Performing Arts