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Letter From The Rector

The Secret of Life

One of my all-time favorite movies is “City Slickers.” You may have seen it. It’s about three middle-aged friends (all big-city executives) who vacation together at a dude ranch in the Southwest. They sign up for a fun-filled cattle drive.

The tough Trail Boss (Curly) played by Jack Palance is talking one day with the over worked, stressed-out character played by comedian Billy Crystal. Curly says to him, “You city folks come out here every year, same age, with the same problems. You spend 50 weeks a year gettin’ knots in your rope, and come out here thinkin’ two weeks will untie them. None of you get it. Do you know what the secret of life is? The secret of life is just one thing (Curly holds up one finger). You stick to that, and everything else don’t mean nothin.” When Billy Crystal’s character asks what that one thing is, Curly responds with a smile, “That’s what you have to figure out!”

Do you know what your “one thing” is? Your purpose? The Apostle Paul gave us his answer in his letter to the Philippians. Paul wrote, “All I want is to know Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11)

Jesus Christ became the “one thing” in Paul’s life….the purpose of his life. Nothing else mattered much. It was Christ and Christ alone. He wrote, “But whatever was to my profit, I now consider it loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” (Philippians 3:7-9)

Twice, Paul used the word “consider.” In Greek it means “to determine the value of.” That’s what Paul did with two things. First, he looked at all his past accomplishments he achieved in his life as a Pharisee and an educated Jew. He considered both the popularity and the power he had enjoyed as a Pharisee “….as loss…rubbish” compared to knowing Jesus Christ as his Lord. Paul was very certain about the “one thing” in his life. It was Jesus.

Can you say the same thing? Some of you reading this may have achieved popularity in your younger years because of your good looks or your talents, or your athletic prowess. Or perhaps you have achieved more power and influence in recent years through job promotions or community recognition. When you consider those things on the one hand, and then consider the abundant graces you have received from knowing and trusting in Jesus Christ….how do they compare?

I want to challenge you to take some time in the next few weeks to reflect upon your life and your faith. In other words, take a spiritual inventory. Think about your own personal “one thing.” What is it? Can you identify it? Then prayerfully calculate the value of all those things you worry about so much in the light of what you possess in Jesus Christ. And then ask yourself, “Do I love Jesus? Do I love him enough to become like him? Do I love him enough to allow him to be the “one thing” in my life?” Settle that question and you will have the answers for many of the other questions about your life.

Peace and Love,
John+