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Still on Track

Philippians 3:13-14
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. (NIVUK)

The great Apostle Paul admitted that he had not yet grasped all that Jesus Christ wanted for him.  Unlike the travelling religious teachers of his day, Paul did not claim perfection or a superior spiritual lifestyle; but neither had he given up.  He was still on track for the finishing line in the 'race of faith'.  The 'race' of the Christian's life is not a competition to exclude all other runners.  Like modern day city-marathons, everybody who completes the course according to the rules will receive a prize (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Our ‘race’ is started by Jesus when we received Him into our hearts (John 1:12) having responded to His call to submit to His authority (Revelation 3:19-20).  It is made possible by the atoning sacrifice of Christ which ‘lays the track’ (1 John 4:10).  In the race we are sustained by Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:8) and encouraged by the prospect of seeing Him at the end of our race to welcome us into His presence (2 Timothy 4:8).  As we run, we also fix our eyes on Jesus who overcame our sin and the derision of the world – so that we might be like Him, and not give up (Hebrews 12:1-3).

'Pressing on', demands that we look ahead, and not backwards.  Although there is a proper sense in which we look back to Calvary in gratitude, Jesus is not still on the cross.  The work of redemption is done, and He is now raised and fully alive as King of kings and Lord of lords.  Although Jesus was the person who started us in the faith, He is also at the finishing line waiting to award us the prize of being with Him forever, with the rewards for faithful obedience.  So Paul is telling the church that it is normal Christian living to put everything into daily obedience, because Christ gave everything for him (Galatians 2:20). The Apostle fully expects to meet the Lord and to be well received (2 Timothy 1:12).

Every believer should look forward with the same expectation: and live each day as if it were their last.  This visible world is certainly not the ultimate in experience.  Yet we often live as though it is – pinning our hopes and fears to it, gluing our eyes to it.  However, we should be looking towards the day when we meet Jesus, with the same expectation of the bride longing for her wedding (Revelation 21:1-5).  Our daily programme is deficient when it focuses only on the financial return, or prospects of promotion: we need to anticipate Christ's daily encouragement and the welcome Jesus wants to give us into His Kingdom. That kind of 'long view' will set the rest of family, work, leisure and church life into perspective. It will make us bold to do what is right and courageous to resist temptation; and each day will be filled with purpose - to please the Lord (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). When Christians live like that, the world notices!

Almighty God. Thank You for Paul's encouragement to persist in our life of faith, trusting that Your leading is right and that our responses will be rewarded. Forgive me for my tendency to allow diversions to drag my attention away from pleasing You; and please help me to accept Your Word as my daily instruction. For Yours alone is the power and the glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams