Paul broke with his past. All his gains he regarded as loss. Nothing of this world mattered to him anymore now that he is aware of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus.
So begins the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. His vision has been transformed. He is looking ahead in pursuit of his desire to know Christ and share in His sufferings that he might attain resurrection.
And the race begins in verse 12.
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” 3:12 (NASB)
He acknowledges his salvation, the blessings he has received yet he breaks from them, forgets them, leaving what lies behind, and continues to strive to reach his goal of being in the glory of Christ. In verses following he encourages the Philippians to “keep focused on that goal” (vs. 15 The Message) and avoid the enemies of the cross. Letting them know that if their attitude, their commitment isn’t total, God will reveal it to you, He will clear your blurred vision (vs. 15 The Message/NASB).
Isn’t that the nature of our journey, of our race? We are running our course. Striving toward our goal – our desire to know Christ but we get sidetracked. Called off the path we are to follow. We begin to follow or find other goals – career goals, personal goals, material goals. Goals that distract. Goals that lead us down Peterson’s “easy street” which turns out to be a “dead end street” when all we listen to is our own appetites.
Paul continues in this vein of worldly versus divine desires by talking of our citizenship being in heaven, to wait for Christ to transform us from this humble and earthly being into His glory.
It is this race. It is this journey. It is this striving. It is this path we follow that will allow us to come to the end of our time here on earth and say, with Paul, that we “have fought the good fight, [we] have finished the race, [we] have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing,” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Keep up your marathon. Stay focused on the path. Listen for His direction when you stray. Let us all meet when we break the ribbon at the end of the race and receive His glory.