Something to think about

from Revd Alistair Jessamine

I concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with
hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight
for the goal – my reward the honour of my high calling
by God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3. 13-14
J B Phillips’ translation

Concentration is a faculty or power of the human mind. In concentration the mind brings all its powers to bear on a specific object and I, for one, am convinced that more people would get more out of the Church, church life and worship services if only they concentrated a bit more on these things than they might otherwise do. The writer of Hymn (CH4) 601 puts it thus:

Look upon us, blessed Lord,
take our wandering thoughts and guide us:
we have come to hear your word:
with your teaching now provide us,
that, from earth’s distractions turning,
we your message may be learning.

Sometimes, when Saint Paul is writing about this, he has in mind the picture of the competitive runner in the games and contests of his day; the runner who strains forward, arms and hands outstretched to reach the finish. And so it is with us, says Paul, in our concentration on this God of ours. We ought ever to be straining forward, striving towards Him. For this striving, so we’re told, is not without its reward. There’s a prize of sorts in all of this – the prize, the reward of attaining to a life which is nothing short of satisfying. Why? Because we Christians believe – or ought to believe – that it’s in God’s charge, that He’s in control, that He Himself has summoned us to live in this way and to see things from that point of view. ALJ

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