Get Your Head in the Game


Philippians 3:12-4:1
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Ah, a sports metaphor. My favorite. Well, not so much. But it does work to make the point. All of us know what it means to strive toward a goal. The rub comes with the fact that in this particular goal you will not win the prize until after you have passed from this life. But that isn’t the point. The point is the journey itself. How are we doing at this race? Here we are challenged to some mental focus, aligning our thinking with God’s which can be a constant and never-finished straining forward toward that which God’s grace holds out to the believer in Christ. Once again Paul illustrates that holy tension that is at the core of the Christian life. We daily experience what it means to live right now but not yet.

As long as [believers] are in the world, they are like people who hold a title to property in a distant land. The title makes the property theirs, but the owners are not yet physically in possession of what rightfully belongs to them. Similarly believers, though they are possessors of eternal life by faith and have the righteousness of Christ, are still also sinners living in a sinful world. They have not yet arrived at the full, physical possession of the perfection of eternal life.
Kuschel, H. J. ©1986. Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (p. 75). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Pub. House.

One of the things about running, in a race or otherwise, is that you really don’t want to look backwards. That’s going to end in disaster, for you will at the very least lose time and even worse, you may trip and fall because you weren’t looking where you were going. To look backward is to lose focus. (Don’t get me wrong here. Looking back can instruct and inform our lives as we relive God’s victories and learn from our mistakes. This is a different emphasis.) And focus is the word here. When we remain fixed on Jesus and His will for our lives we cannot go wrong. When the His victorious resurrection is our goal, we will work diligently toward it. And here is where that already - not yet tension comes into play. We are here at God’s design. I know what my future holds because the God’s promises are sure. But I am here, on earth, because that is God’s will for me right now and so I will strive while I’m here to live as He calls; I will strive to bring Him glory even in this sin-filled world.

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