There comes a time to leave some things behind. Paul says this in his great chapter on love. "When I was a child I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." (1 Corinthians 13:11) This does not mean putting things away and doing with less. It means moving on to something more, something greater. When the greater is there and can be had, why stay with the lesser. It's like a man who could have the car of his dreams, or he could have a matchbox model of that car. Does he choose the matchbox? Again, if he has had the matchbox model and then he wins that car in a contest, but the price is turning in the matchbox, does he refuse?
So God gives us an upward call. There is more. It is greater and more wonderful. And we are invited. The entire New Testament, from the last chapters of the Gospels, on through the book of Acts, the letters of Paul, James, Peter, John, Jude and on to the book of Revelation -- all of it is written within the reality of Easter.
This life is not the end. This world is not all there is. And this body is not all that we are. When Jesus rose from the dead, He at first confused and then reoriented the disciples. He pushed them into a different reality. They were living the entire rest of this life in the presence of the living, risen-from-the-dead God and Savior. God was their friend who was inviting them to be with Him forever. I like the image of "running with Jesus through endless years."
It's an upward call. There are things to leave behind. But when Jesus says "Come, follow Me ..." and then He takes off running along with blessings and eternal life, who doesn't want to go along. Paul says, "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)
It's an upward call. There are things to leave behind. Death, alienation from God, conflict within, sin and its guilt (Jesus will bring us there), and a whole bunch more. Paul says, "I count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him ... that i may know Him and the power of His resurrection, ..." (Philippians 3:8-10)
There are promises that come with the "upward call." Jesus promises blessings (Matthew 5:3-12) John tells us "when He appears we shall be like Him ..." (1 John 3:2) God will celebrate that "Behold, the dwelling of God is with man. he will dwell with them, and they will be His people, ..." (Revelation 21:3-4) The Bible says that on Judgment Day Jesus "will exult over you with loud singing." (Zephaniah 3:17) And Psalm 16 finishes with "you make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)
Lord Jesus, Help me to remember the greatness of the promises I have in You, so I will press on knowing that there are blessings ahead, and that following You is not giving up joys and settling for less, but setting aside what is less as You give the greatest and best of all blessings and joys. Help me to live that others may see the joy that comes from walking with You and knowing the power of Your resurrection. Amen.