2. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead - V. 12-16
Paul has told us that everything that is in him seeks to be like Christ and everything of worth is in Christ. That goal has absorbed all his energy and focus. God doesn’t want for you or me to turn back or turn aside from that goal of becoming like Christ. It is a process and it takes a lifetime of seeking to reach that goal. Like an athlete who trains all the time seeking to be the best at what they do, a believer is at least reaching out for that maturity in Christ. Paul says he is striving but not to think that he had completed the task. He constantly sought to do all the more to reach those goals we have just mentioned. He says he continues to “press on” to take hold of that goal, to take hold of Christ and the maturity in Him, the completeness of his discipleship in Christ. God took hold of him and He seeks to get a hold on Christ in return but to do that He must “forget what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”
Paul pressed on and didn’t look back. He pressed on toward the “prize” for which God had called him toward, heaven with Christ! Don’t we all want to be going to heaven? Surely everyone here is on that train! God gave Paul a mission and He sought to complete that mission as best he could and the end of that mission would be death and heaven. He awaited that special prize. But, note, it took Paul a lifetime of suffering and sorrow along with great joy and exciting to be at that place where he could say it was close. But you have to stop looking back and press forward.
My dear friends, this body of believers are going to have to press forward with all your might to move toward that goal for the church of Jesus Christ, to honor and glorify Him in all you do for His kingdom. You can’t quit, you can’t go backward, you can’t go so slowly that you will never get there but you have to move with purpose and meaning, seeking to be like Christ and reach others for Jesus. This church has to grow with new Christians and the only way to do that is for each of you to reach one and bring one. You must invite people to an “exciting” church and one that will continue to make every person feel welcome and feel as if they are important to you and to God. You know how to do that, just press forward and do it. Don’t rest on your past but look to your future, it is in God’s hands.
Paul is still speaking to you who are mature! You can’t quit! Those who are mature, lead! Stand tall and work hard for the Kingdom of God. Paul says, “Only live up to what we have already attained.”