Summary: To run the race and win the prize, we must get rid of all the distractions
Philippians 3:10-21 May 25, 2008
Running the race.
Clip – Eric Liddell falling, getting up to win the race.
Paul has given up everything that should have made him proud in life. Why? He had a goal – to attain the resurrection.
Resurrection: not life after death, but life after life after death. The ultimate goal is not that we ascend to heaven, but that heaven descends to us.
Last week, Paul was using the analogy of the balance sheet – what is on the credit side and what is on the debit side. He now switches analogies to a race. He is running to win the prize
He says this with a great turn of phrase. He uses the same hard-to-translate word twice:
TNIV: I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
NLT: I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.
Message: reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.
Wright: “I’m hurrying on, eager to overtake it, because King Jesus has overtaken me.
It is this great image that we are reaching for the prize that is the resurrection life that Jesus promises us, but Jesus was reaching for something too – he was reaching for you and for me that we might have this great resurrection life. We are racing toward each other with the same goal – to see the resurrection!
Or another way of reading it is that Jesus has recruited us to run on his Track team, so that we can win the prize that he has offered.
Goals in life – Rick Warren
Paul is shooting for a very achievable goal
1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
God is on our side – he wants us to win the race, but we still have to run.
It’s like the coach telling his athlete that the race is in the bag…
Not that we have to attain the Resurrection by working ourselves into being worthy of it, but that we live by God’s grace and power so that when it happens, we are there to receive it.
A few years ago, I preached at a friend’s church while he was on holiday. The message I was going to give was one that I had given here, and God seemed to really use it. We invited people to come to the church for ministry after and most of the congregation came forward. When I got to this little church and talked with one of the leaders I asked him if they had a ministry team that could pray for people if we invited people forward for prayer after the sermon. He looked at me, and then looked at the congregation and assured me that he knew everyone there, that they were all Christians and therefore there would be no need to offer ministry after the sermon.
Clearly his idea was that once you crossed the line, and became a Christian, you were done.
Paul says this is not the case, even he has not arrived at the finish-line yet.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” 12-13
There must have been “mature” Christians in the church at Philippi who felt as if they had “Arrived.” Because Paul has the need to say, “All of us, then, who are “mature” should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently,(if you are truly mature) that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” 15-16
Watch us, not them
- taking Jeff to the Tuesday MTB night race – the benefit of getting behind a better rider and following their line
- the disadvantage of getting behind a not-so-good rider and getting taken down some trails you would rather not take.
Paul says in verse 17, that he, and people like him, are veteran riders – they know the right lines to take. Follow their example and you will run well.
He says that there are some really lousy riders out there. If you follow them you might not just crash and burn, but it is likely that they will lead you right off the race course – far from resurrection, straight to destruction!