Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oh, I'm Running to Your Arms...

I am by no means a musical expert. In middle school, as a sort of joke, I played clarinet in band class as a school elective credit (It was bad). However, the band Hillsong United has a song called "Forever Reign" that I highly recommend. The main chorus states "I'm running into your arms, the riches of your love will always be enough. Nothing compares to your embrace, light of the world forever reign!" Truer lyrics have never been spoken. The link is listed below...

When I think of Paul's imperative exhortation to the Philippian believers to "Rejoice in the Lord!" in Philippians 3:1, I imagine running. This image became real to me over the 4th of July week when I went up to Birmingham, Alabama, and upon arriving at my destination witnessed two boys, 5 and 3, upon exiting the car, run into the arms of their aunt and tackle her out of their excitement. As I witnessed this unabashed happiness, I felt myself experiencing the feeling of joy that comes from the Lord when we are resting in him and are able to see something truly beautiful occur.

Unfortunately joyful moments are surrounded by many painful ones. Difficult circumstances arise in our lives that cause the joy we have received in Christ to be difficult to see. For the Philippians, their difficult circumstances came from the spiritual opposition of the Judaizers. The Judaizers were men who claimed to know God through their outward signs of religious practice, but were communicating doctrine or teachings that were untrue in regards to how to know God. A clear example of this would have been the physical act of circumcision, which these teachers claimed had to be performed in order to assure a person's salvation. Today, we face opposition from numerous sources. Any teaching that commands that we must add to the work of Jesus Christ in order to be saved is false doctrine and is untrue!

Paul speaks strongly to this point when he urges the Philippians in 3:2 to look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. These were strong words against those false teachers, words that incriminated the teachers as dogs or irreverent to the true holiness of God’s character. Paul uses the description of dogs to communicate the idea that these men’s attempts at religious obedience were filthy in the sight of a holy God, similar to how dogs will often role around in their own filth. Paul also claimed that those false teachers were evil or wicked, purposefully trying to confuse and manipulate people’s minds in order to justify their own actions. Essentially, the Philippian church faced a difficult set of circumstances by these false teachers that made the joy found in Christ difficult to see. What circumstances in your life have made you unsure if God was really true, really present, really worth worshipping?
Just as the Philippian Christians would have had trouble seeing the joy they had received due to the Judaizers false teachings pressing upon them, you are reminded to rejoice in the Lord and dwell on the joy you are given while dealing with difficult circumstances. I would challenge you to think about what it would look like to not be dependent on yourself and immediately rush to fix your circumstances. Rather, allow God to be the God who is worthy of rejoicing, allow him to take control and fight your battles and your circumstances.
The two little boys that ran with unbridled adoration and complete passion into the arms of their aunt that they had learned to unequivocally trust. Likewise, I challenge you to run into the arms of Jesus! To unashamedly run into his arms, knowing he loves us and calls us to trust in him. It is only in the arms of Jesus, that true joy can be found.

Drew Taylor
3rd Year MDiv Student RTS Orlando

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