There are two goals in this passage and a confession that brings me great relief. The first goal is to experience the power that raised Jesus from the dead. The second is to hold firmly on to progress in the journey of faith. Paul had no trouble believing that if Jesus could do it, then Paul should expect to be able to do it too. If Jesus had promised him something, then he could rely on that promise. Paul was also aware of how far he had come in faith, since he had first seen the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus. It is really important to remember how much distance we have covered before we worry about how much further we still have to travel. Paul’s confession, in today’s reading, fills me with hope. Paul preached with such confidence, such assurance and such divine authority, that it would be easy to assume that he had seen it all and knew all the answers. But here he makes it clear that he has not attained perfection, by which I think he means he is far from attaining a perfect Christ like holiness. However, he continues to press on and focus solely on what lies ahead. Dwelling on the past and ones shortcomings is, in Paul’s opinion, only going to delay him in his race to claim his heavenly prize which the Lord has called him to receive.
Philippians 3:10-16 NLT
I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
My goals today will be three. The first two will be the same as Paul’s in today’s passage: to experience the power that raised Jesus from the dead and to hold on to and acknowledge the progress I have made in my walk of faith. My third goal will be to leave my past failures in the past where they belong and press on in to a future lived entirely for God. I am far from possessing the perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me, but I am more determined than ever to keep on towards that goal. I have come a long way since I was baptised a few years ago and it makes me glad to see that I have already achieved more than I would have believed possible. But, along with the confidence that these achievements have brought has come a strong desire to press on deeper into God and step out with renewed strength and firmer faith.
Isaiah 66:1-24, Philippians 3:5-21, Psalms 74:1-23, Proverbs 24:15-16