“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.”Philippians 3:12-14, The Message
Comparison is the thief of joy. We’ve all heard it, and we’ve all continued to scroll through our Facebook and Instagram feeds, dreaming about our friends’ perfect lives. In a world of photo filters that take away blemishes and social media personas that mask hurt and failure, it’s rare to see authentic struggle of those outside of our inner circle. This often leads us to believing we’re alone, trapped on the hamster wheel of life – always chasing and never reaching the goal – meanwhile, everyone around us is already there, drinking a latte.
When reflecting on this passage, I think members of the church of Philippi may have looked at Paul with the same kind of awe and bewilderment as we look at those around us who “have it all together.” I think Paul recognized this perception of himself and knew that viewing his life through rose-colored glasses would not bring more followers to Christ. So, he burst their bubble and reminded them that they were all running the same race. He leveraged authenticity and vulnerability to say I’m not perfect. I’m not an expert. I’m still learning. I have not achieved what I was called to do. And, I rely on strength from Jesus.
Throughout Chapter 3, Paul reminds the church about his past: Think back to who I was before, it wasn’t pretty. I stood completely against the message of Jesus Christ that I have now dedicated my life to sharing.
Rather than intentionally – or unintentionally – presenting an Instagram-worthy persona of perfection, Paul encourages the church by getting real. Few have as rocky of a past as I do. But here I am, leaving the past behind in anticipation of the future. I’m running right alongside you, striving to be more and more like Jesus. If I can do it, you can do it, too. Have hope.
I believe Paul’s message here is two-fold. First, he is encouraging us to press on – to fight the good fight, to take the next step, to not give up – in pursuit of becoming one with Christ. However, I also think Paul is teaching us how to effectively come alongside others in this lifetime pursuit, through authenticity and vulnerability.
I pray today that we would all bring our true, unfiltered selves to the table. We never know who needs to remove their rose-colored glasses to really see us – to gain a new hope in their pursuit of building a relationship with Jesus.
Dear God, thank you for your gift of scripture that overflows with evidence of your glory, goodness, and love for us. As we reflect on today’s scripture, we are grateful for the reminder that we don’t have to have it all together or be an expert, rather we simply need to continue pressing onward each day, striving to be more like Jesus. I ask that you give me the strength and awareness to lean into authenticity and vulnerability in my own life so that I can encourage and be a beacon of hope for others, as they join me on this race to becoming more like you. Amen.
Britton Johnson lives in Boston, MA
I am blessed to be Brita’s daughter! One of the perks of being her daughter is leveraging her way with words – my mom has edited papers and reports for me since I was 12, including my PhD dissertation (she is definitely the only person who has read every word of my dissertation).
In the spirit of my devotional (i.e., removing filters and letting people see the real stuff), I did a lot of seemingly “adulting” things in my 20s, but it wasn’t until age 27 that I scheduled my own dentist appointments… my mom did it for me until then. Thank you, mom!