Racing Towards the Prize

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio,  The Conversion of St. Paul , 1600

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, The Conversion of St. Paul, 1600

Read Philippians 3:12-21

In Philippians 3:12, Paul describes his life as an active strain to grasp the prize. The prize being his ultimate redemption and union with Christ Jesus. The beautiful thing is that Jesus has already seized him, and thus, the reward is guaranteed. The all-consuming controlling idea of Paul's mission and purpose is that Jesus loves and has "made me His own" or literally, "laid hold" of him.

But what controls us? How often do we hand authority over to our desires, cravings, and hungers? Our lives become dictated by what we want to the degree that if we paused to think about long may begin to unsettle us. More stuff, bigger and better stuff, more power and influence, more free time, more pleasure, whatever our pursuits, our day to day lives can quickly become overwhelmed by a mission of self-service. We have grown up in a world that has taught us the greatest pursuit is our satisfaction, so we spend our lives building ourselves up to accumulate more bits of power. Pay raises and promotions drive us as we seek to establish lives of wealth, prestige, popularity, and comfort, and we never dream that pursuing and fulfilling our desires could be the worst thing for us.

The self-fulfilling pursuits most of us find ourselves in, offer us the promise of life but only enslave us. We chase and chase but never can seem to achieve our goal. There is always more to do or be or buy, and we become enslaved to our desires until they consume and destroy us. Some call it the rat race, others the American dream, the Bible calls it sin. 

The good news is Jesus loves us. This truth uniquely struck me this week. I suddenly realized that this is the most important thing. It is the thing that no matter what else I do or no matter what else happens should define me and my life. It defined Paul's life and mission, and here in Philippians, he longs for it to define the believers at Philippi. In this truth, we can have and experience joy, life, and a glimpse of heaven on earth. This truth restores us. It offers an alternative life, an alternative pursuit. We are called to get up each day and live lives that pursue Jesus and his love for us. Everything else pales when compared to this.

Let's Live Into This Today:

What are you afraid of losing by choosing to let go of your pursuit of power? That is, what are you afraid of missing out on if you were to give up your daily pursuit of wealth, control, influence, or pleasure?

What would giving yourself over to the idea that Jesus loves you as you are free you from? What desires could you let go of? What insecurities could you relinquish? What fears could you leave behind?

What would change in your life if you began to pursue Jesus and His love for you? How could you start to do this?

Let's begin now by praying. Ask Jesus to meet with you, and to stir and reassure your heart with His love for you. Spend a moment in Jesus' presence. Meditate on His love for you, his relentless pursuit of you, a pursuit that led to death. Respond with a prayer of gratitude and ask that Jesus would continue to fill your heart with this union you have in him.