Our Goal as God’s children is to grow in our Christian faith, and to achieve the eternal reward that God has promised.
The Apostle Paul encourages us in Philippians 3:12-17 to strive toward the goal.
” Not that I have already obtained all this (righteousness through faith in Christ), or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, 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. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some points you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”
Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.
Apostle Paul speaks to us about his highest goals as a follower of Christ. To achieve the righteousness that comes from God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul says “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Paul wanted to know Christ. Paul wanted to know the secret of Christ’s resurrection, his suffering and death. He was determined to become like Jesus. He wanted to share in Christ’s suffering.
Paul was convinced, that all these steps would lead him to his ultimate goal, namely to attain to the resurrection from the dead. The stages of spiritual growth that he had to go through would ultimately lead to justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul’s highest goal was to rise with Christ and to share in his glory. Our aim is to achieve the goal that the Apostle Paul had set out to achieve: the resurrection in Christ. At the end of the age we want to be where our Redeemer is. We want to be with Christ in glory. That is our heavenly goal!
Meanwhile, there are some smaller goals (like stepping stones) that we must achieve in order to get to the final goal.
Verse 16 tells us that a step in pressing toward the goal is holding fast to what we’ve already attained. Just because we’re depending on Jesus and his work of salvation doesn’t mean that we don’t have any responsibility. We do. Our responsibility is to keep learning and growing, to keep developing in our faith. You’ve heard the saying that “the time you stop growing is the time you start dying.” If we’re going to hold fast to what we’ve already attained, then we can’t ever be complacent about where we are. To stand still is to lose ground. It’s like inflation. Unless your savings and investments are earning interest at least at the rate of inflation, your money is actually losing value. We can’t just stick it in a mattress and forget it. We have to keep progressing just to keep up.
In order to hold on to what we’ve already attained, we must keep our eye on the heavenly prize and never stop reaching for it. I’m not saying that we have to be anxious all the time. Of course, we can relax in the loving mercy of God, but we can’t rest too long on our spiritual laurels. We must always be pressing on toward the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
The mission of the Church is to represent Jesus Christ in the world. We are Christ’s disciples. And we teach others to keep the commandments that God has given us. Our mission is to bring the message of hope of the resurrection in Jesus Christ to our world.
Let us remember that it is the grace of God that allows us to set such a heavenly goal for ourselves. It is because of God’s unending love that we can be part of God’s eternal Kingdom.
The apostle Paul invites us to press on toward the heavenly goal. Our reward will be eternal. May God help us to find our eternal goal. And may God give us courage as we strive to achieve our highest Christian ideals.