by Calven Celliers
As long as we’re alive, there is progress to be made!
One thing that really excites me is that God will ultimately bring us as believers to a place of perfection, a place of completeness, a place of wholeness, a place where we will lack nothing spiritually, emotionally, relationally, physically or otherwise. Yet for now, we are far from perfect. Not one of us can honestly say we have already “arrived”. We all wrestle with personal flaws, weaknesses, and hang-ups. There are areas of our lives that need to be changed or improved. But don’t despair. We are all on a journey of spiritual growth and progressive transformation, as He creates in us the likeness of Christ.
In his letter to the Church at Philippi the apostle Paul declares,
“12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”(Philippians 3: 12 – 14NLT)
These words have inspired Christians from the day they were penned. As followers of Christ, we are called to strive to be like Christ; a process that the apostle Paul describes as a race with a heavenly prize at the finish line.
According to Paul the race requires focus. The race requires forgetting the past. The race requires forging ahead in the strength that the Lord provides.
The apostle Paul perceives himself to be a runner with one goal in mind: to finish the race and to win the prize. He was laser-focused on the race, the goal, and the finish line. He pursued the goal with the intent of capturing it.
Like an Olympian runner, he would not look back at his failures. Paul, who was Saul, once persecuted the church violently. He played a part in the stoning of Stephen, and he could have let guilt and shame cripple him for that. But Paul chose not to let the past hold him captive. He looked forward resolutely toward the finish line where he would see the face of Jesus. The Christian life is a dynamic one. It’s always moving. We are ever learning, ever growing, and ever moving forward. Whilst we can, and must, learn from the past, we cannot allow ourselves to dwell, or even get trapped, in the past.
So, be encouraged by Paul’s emphasis here on forgetting the past and straining forward to what lies ahead. Don’t let yesterday’s failures derail you from the goal of your upward call. Press on for the prize until you meet the Lord Jesus at the finish line.
The race also requires forging ahead in the strength that the Lord provides. The direction of the prize is upward. God alone is the source of our salvation as well as the source of our spiritual growth. The closer we get to completion, the more we realize how much further we have to go to become like Christ. The prize, however, is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. As the apostle said earlier on in his letter to the Philippians:
“8 …I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ…” (Philippians 3:8NIV)
Keep your eyes on Jesus!