10 The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death 11 so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead.
12 It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. 13 Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. 14 The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.
This particular passage of scripture will always hold a special place in my heart, because my first-ever sermon came from this section of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi.
I love the hopefulness here, the conviction. Forget about what’s behind; reach toward what’s ahead. It’s a beautiful message.
Here’s the problem: it’s not easy to do. Every day the world around us tries to convince us of what really matters: wealth, success, power, status. Certainly not Jesus’ values of forgiveness, kindness, or humility.
There’s another image in the text: wanting to take hold of the thing for which Christ took hold of me. This is great wordplay. But maybe the picture of what’s happening is not so much that we’re reaching toward the goal of salvation, but that Christ is pulling us in that direction. We are being drawn toward it, even dragged toward it when necessary. (Or is it, that we’re being dragged away from those other things?)
There are certainly days when I feel dragged toward salvation – like the thing I least want in the world is to be like Jesus – because it’s so hard. And yet, somehow, in those moments he still manages to remind me that his way is the only real option. Everything else is an illusion that’s unable either to save or satisfy. Friends, there’s only one prize that matters!
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Can you recall a time when you dreaded doing what you knew God needed you to do? How did it turn out – was it as bad as you thought?
When you come up against a situation today where you feel Christ calling you to do something you don’t want to do, call that memory to mind and pray you can make the right choice!