Summary: Will we go wherever He calls us, will we follow wherever he leads us, and will we one day take hold of the prize and hear our Lord tell each of us, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’?
In case you haven’t yet heard…the Olympics are coming to Vancouver in less than 100 days. Athletes all over the world are preparing for their various events, from speed skating to downhill skiing, and my favourite…hockey (Canada’s Game!). Athletes train in such a way as to be the best of the best. Their goal; an Olympic Gold Medal, and hearing their national anthem playing while their flag is raised and they stand atop the podium as ‘Olympic Champion.’
Have you ever heard of someone saying, ‘I want to be an Olympic Silver or Bronze medalist.’ or, ‘We’re here to lose!’, or how about, ‘What AM I doing here?’ What would we think of a coach who said something like, ‘I’m here to help you be number TWO!’ Anyone who sets their sights on being in the Olympics wants one thing…to win the top prize, the GOLD medal. And their coaches and trainers want to do everything in their power to help them see that goal realized.
As followers of Christ, should we set our sights any lower than the prize for which we all strive for? What is that prize? What is our goal? Are we in a race of some kind that we need to win? Take a look with me in the 3rd chapter of Philippians, and let’s read about what Paul has to say to the church then, and now, about the prize we should desire with every ounce of our being.
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (NIV)
How many of us have ‘arrived’, or feel that there’s nothing more in life for us to accomplish; for us, for God or for anyone; we’ve heard it all, we know it all, we’ve done it all? Anyone like that here today?
If that were somehow possible, we would be…perfect, right? Paul knew that he had not yet ‘arrived’ at perfection. He knew what it was to BE perfect because he knew the One Who IS perfect, Jesus Christ.
Paul talks in the previous few verses, which we looked at last week, about KNOWING Christ; about knowing the power of Jesus’ resurrection, about sharing in Jesus’ sufferings, and about dying to himself so that, somehow, he might one day rise from the dead into eternal life also. The ‘somehow’ is the amazing part; simple, yet amazing. Because Jesus Christ did die for us, and did rise from the dead three days later, we too can have eternal life, if we put our complete faith and trust in these truths, and in THE TRUTH, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
But Paul has not obtained all of this yet…this KNOWING of Christ and this complete understanding of what God has done to bring us back into relationship with Him. This is a great mystery, the reclamation of our souls, the sacrifice that God made on our behalf, the atonement for our sin. And not just our sin, but the sin of the entire world, from then until now, and for all eternity…our ‘crime against the Creator’, paid for in full by the Creator Himself.
And if Paul, one of the forefather’s of the Church cannot claim to have obtained all of this knowledge, how can we? We cannot be ‘comfortable’ in our position in the Kingdom of God yet, nor should we ever feel like we’re ‘old dogs’ that can’t be taught any ‘new tricks.’ No, we keep moving forward, and we keep working for the Lord, and we keep on keeping on!
No, we haven’t ‘got there’ yet, BUT…says Paul, but we press on to take hold of that for which Christ has taken hold of us, and then he says we press on toward the goal to win the prize…some might say that the Canucks need to press towards the goal a lot more, but we as Christians need to PRESS ON. It’s not a button that we press on or off; it’s an attitude of always wanting more of Jesus in our lives now, and to one day rise to eternal life with Him in Heaven, heaven is the goal, heaven is the prize, being with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit for all of eternity is the gold medal that we must strive for, train for, strain for, and press on towards, today, and every day of our lives.