Running the Christian Race

Posted By: Dieuner Joseph | Thursday, October 31, 2019

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. Philippians 3:12

Paul was fond of using athletic illustrations to teach theological lessons. He was certainly greatly influenced by the Olympic competitions in Greece after he visited Athens during his second missionary journey. That influence is evident in many of his letters, but especially in Philippians 3.

In today’s text, Paul is explicitly clear that he has not yet won the prize for running the Christian race. What prize is he talking about? The prize is the crown of eternal life. Much like the Greek athletes who received the winner prize known as “Olive wreath” also known as kotinos in Greek, Paul wants his crown.

Paul also says that he has not already arrived at his goal. His goal was to be raised up with Christ and be seated with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6). He wanted to “know Christ in the power of his resurrection, and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” Philippians 3:10-11.

As a result of his determination to win the prize and arrive at his goal, Paul says he is pressing on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of him. The word hold is from the Greek word katalambanō, which is translated to take possession of something or someone. What Paul is saying is that he is pressing on in his Christian Race to take possession of his heavenly inheritance which is the very reason Christ took possession of his life on the road of Damascus.

All disciples of Jesus Christ have to press on to take possession of their heavenly inheritance. The Greek word Paul used for “press” gives the image of an athlete running in a Marathon, chasing after the finish line, and determine to finish the race at any cost. We have to press on to cultivate a life of prayer. Spiritual growth requires pressing. Developing a relationship of loving union with God demands pressing.

We have to press against our fleshly desires so we can live victoriously through Christ. It is not possible to resist and defeat the attacks of the enemy if we do not press on. Couples have to press on in their marriage if they want to enjoy the fruits of a God-centered marriage. We have to press to church every Sunday to worship, and not allow any distraction to hinder our worship.

What does that pressing look like? It is praying without ceasing, and studying the word of God consistently and passionately. It is spreading the gospel through evangelism zealously, and using our gifts and talents to serve the kingdom in whatever condition we may be in.

There is no time for rest in the Christian race. We only retire from this race when we transition to glory. Our goal is to hear our savior say “well done my good and faithful servant.” Our prize is eternal life in our heavenly home.

The good news is that God does not allow us to run that race alone. The Holy Spirit is running the race with us. There is also a great cloud of witness that is cheering us on (Hebrews 12:1). We also have to encourage one another to run the Christian race with perseverance. If any brother or sister is struggling to run the race, we who are more spiritually mature should cheer that person so they can finish their race.

Prayer- Blessed Lord, I pray for those that are quitting the Christian race. Please give them the courage and foresight to look to the Holy Spirit for strength so they can finish their race wo win their prize.

About The Author

Rev. Dieuner Joseph is a dynamic leader, disciple Maker, Writer, Talk Show host, and Spiritual counselor. Reverend Joseph is the founder of the Imani Temple Baptist Church and the Disciple Maker Ministry. He is a skilled Bible teacher who carefully and responsibly exegete the Scriptures to make them relevant to today’s readers. Through his Blog and weekly Christian magazine- The Wednesday Word- he seeks to provide Bible based instructions for dealing with the socio-political issues of today.

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