Life Is A Race.
In First Century culture, there was an obsession with the Games. The big-ticket items were the Olympic and Isthmian Games. But all over the Roman Empire, smaller ticket items were taking place.
Running races were a key component of any Games. In Philippians 3, Paul capitalizes on this cultural trend by explaining the Christian life as a runner in a race.
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” (Phil. 3:13b-16)
We’re The Runners
Imagine you’re the runner in one of the Games greatest races. (You decide whether you’re running long or short distance.) Now imagine you’re in the last 10 feet of that race and you’re in the lead!
The crowd is on its feet, yelling and screaming with anticipation, waiting for you to cross the finish line! How do you act in that moment? How do you think in that moment? Where is your focus?
Now let’s unpack Paul’s instruction, using 3 very important questions:
1. What Lies Behind?
Paul’s writes “…forgetting what lies behind…” but there’s a question in there: “What lies behind?”
Paul’s pre-Christian life was one of legalism and violence. Once he belonged to Jesus, that old life was gone. He had to forget the law and dictatorship of his past, in order to continue the race of his Christian life.
What about us? What sin held us captive before Christ? It likely still tempts us today. Is it holding us up? Are we a runner who’s in the lead, but glances back every once in a while? Looking back will never help us win the race. Especially in the last 10 feet!
Instead, we must remained focused and “…press on toward the goal…”
2. What Lies Ahead?
Paul then writes, “…straining forward to what lies ahead…” which also holds a question: “What lies ahead?”
Paul lost everything; all the status, security and prestige of the religious élite, when he met Jesus. But none of that mattered in comparison to knowing Jesus and having his eternity secured. This is what Paul kept in his sights…the finish line!
Jesus waits for us at the finish line, encouraging us to give everything we have. We need to live the Christian life like it’s the last 10 feet of a race. It’s a life of straining forward, giving every once of energy into living for Him, eyes fixed on the prize.
3. Is The Prize Enough?
This question isn’t actually spelled out, but its a valid one and maybe the most important. Do we believe the prize is worth it? I mean, do we really believe the prize is enough?
We talk about looking forward to Christ’s return and our eternity with him. But we don’t often act like it. And belief and action should align right?
I struggle keeping this in the fore-front of my mind. Even as a pastor, confronted with the Gospel every day, I slip into coasting through life instead of sprinting for the finish line.
May we encourage each other to “…press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Join the Conversation, Leave Your Thoughts
Life is a race. What causes you to glance back at your pre-Christian life? What sin from your past still slows you down?