Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Run a Race (Part 2)

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

The Winter Olympics are over, and the medal count is in. Russia won more medals than any other country. I know this because we track the medal count. In fact, it is hard to avoid hearing the medal count if you are watching any American coverage of the Olympics. We don't track which country has the most athletes compete or which country has the most fourth place finishes. We track which country wins the most medals. The Olympics is all about the medals. They are the reason the Olympians expend all that effort training. They are the reason the Olympians put off other normal life activities like getting married or having kids. In the balance, Olympians believe the chance to win a gold medal is worth it, so they strive to win with a singular focus and with every muscle in their bodies.

There is a prize for us as Christians too. A prize so great that the Bible says it's worth forgetting our old way of life and straining toward it with a singular focus. What is this prize?
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ... (Philippians 3:7-8)
The prize for which we strive is knowing Jesus. The Apostle Paul tells us in this passage that knowing Jesus is far better than anything else in the world. Everything else is like garbage compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus and Paul has gladly traded it all away in order to focus exclusively on knowing Him. That's what the Christian life is really all about isn't it? A closer relationship with Jesus. Of course it is. This is our prize, and unlike Olympic medals, we can take this prize with us when we die! The prize of knowing Jesus is eternal and the race we run as Christians is all about winning this prize.

Until we value knowing Jesus like this, we will never run a good race. Until we long to know Him above all else, we will constantly be distracted by lesser concerns. What we need is the singular focus of an Olympic athlete applied to the Christian faith. We need to fall so in love with knowing Jesus that everything else appears to us like garbage in comparison to its greatness.

Do you love Jesus like this? I know that I'm not there yet. This type of love affects every area of your life. It affects:
•How you raise your kids
•What you do with your money
•What you watch on TV or in movies
•Even your professional aspirations

I need God's work to move forward in my life in this area. If you do too, then join me in praying this prayer.
Lord, help me to fall more in love with you every day so that this world seems less and less attractive to me. Show me, Father, what I need to give up in order to run after knowing Jesus with all that I have. May I consider even the good things that stand between me and knowing Jesus to be trash compared to that great prize. Draw me ever nearer to your, Father. In Jesus' name, Amen.

For further reading...
  • Luke 14:25-25- See especially verse 33. We are called to give up everything in pursuit of Christ.
  • Jeremiah 9:23-24- Boast in knowing the Lord.
  • John 17:1-5- See especially verse 3. Eternal life is knowing the Father and the Son. 

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