I was talking with someone recently who asked what college courses I taught to my degree-completion students. I answered, “Bible, Philosophy and Ethics.” To my amazement he replied, “I don’t know what good they are.” As you can imagine, that was not the response I was expecting from a self-professed theist (someone who believes in a god). When I pushed back and asked for some clarification, he informed me that he was only referring to the Bible and Ethics courses. He said that individuals in my classes had already made up their minds about these matters.
But not all of my students have.
And most of my students need to hear what I have to say about the Bible and about Ethics.
Because I still need to hear what I have to say about the Bible and about Ethics.
Being. Becoming. Plato and Aristotle were both correct (as I simplify their philosophy and apply a Judeo-Christian worldview grid on top of it).
I am what I am.
But I can (and should) change.
In other words, I have not yet arrived. And, I’ve never met someone who has.
The Apostle Paul clearly understood that he was still a work-in-progress.
“More 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 in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, 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, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8-24; NASB).
If you are a Christian, that admission should greatly encourage you! Paul–the man entrusted with communicating much of the New Testament–someone who had a tangible experience with the Risen Christ–was reaching forward, pressing on!
Here’s how Eugene Peterson renders the passage from Philippians, chapter three:
“Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant–dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ–God’s righteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it. I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward–to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back” (Phil. 3:8-14; The Message).
Friends, we who know Christ must be on a mission to “go all the way with Him”! We’re not perfect either. We’re not experts in this subject quite yet. As a result, we need more Bible. We need to be reminded of how God wants us to act and react when faced with ethical dilemmas.
And it has been my pleasure to remind us both.