Eyes fixed on the goal
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. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
From the text, Paul describes his joy as he perseveres in pursuing God’s goal for his life. He says it was to ‘lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me’ (v. 12). Paul was deeply aware of Christ laying hold of him. This took place when he was in Damascus, secure in his belief that he was doing God a service by persecuting Christians. Suddenly, he was blinded by a bright light and knocked to the ground. There in the dust he heard the voice of the risen Christ. He realized that the Jesus he so reviled was indeed the Christ and that in persecuting Christians, he was in fact persecuting Christ (see Acts 9:1–9). This was how Christ laid hold of him. He was seized with the strong, unbreakable grip of the risen, sovereign Lord. Paul knew that the Lord Jesus had a purpose in seizing him; ‘that I may know Him’ (v. 10). The Lord Jesus saved Paul in order to bring him into an intimate knowledge of Himself. As his knowledge of Christ increased through the years of faithfully serving God, he realized “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (v. 14). We might not have the same way Christ took hold of Paul at Damascus road, yet God laid hold of us when God opened our minds to see our own sinfulness, then realize the need of forgiveness and the sufficiency of Christ because of His mercy. Then by His gift of faith, we become conscious to the degree that we should be, realizing our upward call; “for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This is a call from heaven that summons us to keep moving forward and upward in our knowledge of the Lord. We could not be passive or casual about it. Paul’s use of the illustration of a runner establishes the fact the runner must not concern himself with some awkward mistake or misstep at the beginning of the race. Instead the focus of his concentration now that He belongs to Christ should be completely on the goal line, driving towards it with everything his body has to offer and straining every muscle. This is how we approach the Christian life; we must not look back and linger on to our failures or successes. We must keep ever in mind that our goal is to know Christ better, and we must daily put forth the effort to reach that goal. Just like Paul, we too will be helped by God each day so we too could arrive in the goal He set for us in the same way.