Striving for the Kingdom

“At the same time, Paul is aware that he is not yet perfect, that he must continue to hasten toward the prize of the upward call of God (Philippians 3:14). Paul does not say that his growth in perfection requires his suffering. He says rather that his growth in perfection requires his striving. And he says that as one who strives he is one who has the righteousness of God and shares Christ’s sufferings. It is as a person ‘in’ Christ, righteous with God’s righteousness, suffering with Christ’s suffering, that he strives. This whole human package – the righteous sufferer – is who strives for the upward call of God.  Paul says that his perfection will be achieved by this striving of one who has been seized by Christ (3:12). Subsequent to this seizure, suffering is part of his makeup. Suffering is not an instrument of sanctification, except insofar as it is part of the condition of the whole ‘in’ Christ person. Paul directs his converts to strive in a similar way: ‘work out your own salvation with fear and quivering; for God is the one who energizes you both to will and to work for God’s good purpose.’ (2:12-13)” (L.Ann Jervis, At the Heart of the Gospel, p 52)