Have you ever felt as though your walk with God has become monotonous? The same old repetitious routine which stirs up minimal enthusiasm to continue pursuing Jesus. Or maybe you’re someone who’s facing trials which have discouraged you and caused you to lose your bearings, now uncertain whether you will finish the Christian race. But no matter who you are or where you’re at, you need to know that there is a goal toward which you should be heading. God has provided us with the direction and means by which you may confidently live the Christian life, maturing in the faith with full assurance that you will endure to the end.
First things first, we have to know where we are going. The goal must be clearly identified as Paul has done for us in his letter to the Philippians.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.Philippians 3:10-11
Paul had acknowledged that all the spiritual privileges of his Jewish heritage were worthless in comparison to having a relationship with Jesus Christ. Awakened to the fact that his own works and credentials were of no merit before God, He trusted in the righteousness of God which he received through Christ by faith (Philippians 3:4-9). It was upon this realization that Paul was able to define the goal for us. The goal is to know Jesus in the most intimate way. To have a greater depth of knowledge of Christ and fellowship with Him. Paul tells us three ways that we can do this:
- Knowing the power of His resurrection. The power which triumphs over death and gives us new resurrection life which transcends this present world.
- Sharing in Christ’s sufferings. We cannot grow in knowledge and relationship with Christ without partaking in suffering (Romans 8:16-17). For it was His suffering on the cross which reconciled us unto God and brought us into fellowship with all three members of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). To know Christ intimately is to suffer with Him. This can range from physical or mental illness, rejection from our friends and families, persecution from the State and perhaps even death as was the case for Paul and the apostles. These sufferings cause us to lean wholly on God, developing in us a childlike faith and trust in Him.
- Resurrection from the dead. Sharing in Christ’s sufferings is the means by which we too will eventually be resurrected unto eternal life with Him.
The goal may be summarised as this: complete Christ-likeness (Romans 8:29).
Not there yet, but on your way
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal…Philippians 3:12
We must be humble and honest in our assessment of where we find ourselves in the pursuit of our goal. Complete Christ-likeness and all it encompasses is perfection. You’re not there yet (nor will you arrive at it on this side of eternity), but you have to keep striving toward it, making use of all the aid God has given to us; immersing ourselves in His Word, seeking wise counsel from spiritual mentors and the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us.
Press on toward the goal
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
We arrive at our goal by pressing on. In this context, the original Greek word for “press on” (Diōkō) suggests the relentless pursuit of something with a single-minded focus. It was the same word used to describe the former relentlessness with which Paul persecuted the early Christians as Saul of Tarsus, the zealous Pharisee determined to bring the Jesus movement of the first century to an end (1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; Philippians 3:6). We are to press on so that we may we possess for ourselves the prize which Jesus won for us – the ultimate reward of faithful service for God.
To run with this kind of tenacity, we must strip ourselves off everything which slows us down – that includes your past sins and mistakes (Hebrews 12:1). Every single one of them. Dispose of them by confessing to God, repenting and leaving them behind as you dash toward the goal.
Called, kept and pressing on
Believe me, I know it’s easier said than done. At times I’ve felt tired. At times I’ve felt that the goal is too great and demands far more than I can do to attain it. However, there are two truths which energize us to press on:
- We can press on because God has called us. If you had called yourself, then you’d have good reason to doubt that you could keep on going. But our call comes from above (v.14), from God Himself through Christ Jesus who persistently sought us while we were lost in our sin (Luke 15:3-10).
- We can press on because we are kept by Christ. Christ has us in the palm of His hand, and by virtue of being in Christ’s hand, we are in the Father’s hand too. (John 10:27-30). He’ll never lose His hold on us because the Father’s power to keep us is greater than Satan’s power to snatch you away, let alone any power you have to wriggle out of His grip.
You are called by God and kept by Christ. Therefore, you can press on toward the goal of complete Christ-likeness one step at a time, yielding to the Holy Spirit’s life-changing work day by day.