Mike McClellan

Editor’s note: This column originally ran on Sept. 7, 2018.

We live in a culture today that continually attempts to define people by their past successes and/or failures. This paradigm forces people to constantly evaluate their value based upon their past, a past which they cannot change.

On one hand, past successes give many people a false sense of security and self-importance in our culture today, while on the other hand past failures cripple the effectiveness and potential of many more.

Let us contrast this cultural paradigm with that of the Bible. In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul, using his own life as an example, describes new life in Christ as one that is focused forward on things that lie ahead rather than dwelling on, and being bound by, past accomplishments and failures.

Paul enumerates his background, his education and his accomplishments, summarizing that in comparison with his new identity in Christ, these no longer provide a sense of worth to him. He also confesses his past failure as a persecutor of the church.

In both he is careful to emphasize that he lets neither have any impact on his life now as a follower of Jesus Christ. Rather, he is singularly focused on the future that Christ has in store for him.

Many of us today find ourselves struggling in this area. We are attempting to rely on past successes and accomplishments to give us personal fulfillment and a sense of worth; this mentality invariably leads to endless pursuit of the next achievement.

Or, we are so bound up in fear by our past failures in our relationships and life choices that it paralyzes our very life. Sadly, these past failures are the primary weapon that the world uses to keep us from reaching our full potential.

But Christ has set us free from the bondage of the past. Therefore, we must not allow ourselves to be defined by our past but rather by who we are, or who we can become, in Christ.

Friends, no matter who you are, where you come from, what successes you’ve had or what failures you’ve endured, God has a place for you. He is calling you to join a family of people that never has to be bound by its past successes or failures but looks boldly forward to the will and purpose of God in Christ for their lives. The apostle Paul said he presses on toward the goal, forgetting all that lies behind, and we should too.

The family that God is calling you to is Christ’s church, and it is a diverse group of people from all backgrounds, circumstances and stations in life who are united around the common understanding that all that has come before is of no value compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ as Savior and Lord.

In success or in failure Jesus is looking for individuals who will lay aside all that entangles them and who will trust in and submit to him as Lord of their lives, thereby breaking free of the bondage of the past. The church is designed to help and equip people to do just that.

Let us help you in breaking free of the past and in finding your value, your purpose and your life focus in Christ and his calling upon your life.

The Rev. Mike McClellan is pastor of Cross Roads Church in Poncha Springs.

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