The upward call
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
Paul from the text shares with the Philippians his present experience which was one of passionately pursuing a distinct goal. The goal of Paul’s life is to “to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (v. 12). Paul will never forget that God took hold of his life when he was in the road in Damascus. At that time, he feels secured 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 despised was indeed the Christ and that in persecuting Christians, he was in fact persecuting Christ (see Acts 9:1–9). He was there seized with the strong, unbreakable grip of the risen, sovereign Lord. Christ took hold of him for the purpose which he has already stated: “that I may know him” (v. 10). The Lord Jesus Christ held and saved Paul in order to bring him into an intimate knowledge of Himself, a knowledge that would increase throughout Paul’s life and culminate in perfect knowledge at death. This goal was also, therefore, to realize and “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (v. 14). The goal of the Christian life is to continue to progress and grow in the knowledge of Christ. Once we come to know Jesus as the Christ, our Lord and Savior, He laid hold of our lives. This opens up our minds to see that we are no longer in bondage from sin. We also realize the sufficiency of Christ that in Him we find real fulfillment and satisfaction. This is why we need to be aware and be conscious about the degree of our spiritual growth and understand that we have an “upward call.” This is a call from God that will culminate in heaven. It is a call that summons us to keep moving forward and upward in our knowledge of the Lord. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).