Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14;
Placed before all runners participating in a race is a mark which they must hit before winning the prize. Many runners are enlisted in a race but itís not everyone that participates that gets the prize, the medal is reserved only for those who hit the mark. The race believers are called to run is not without a target, the target is the mark everyone must strive to hit in order to get the prize. Until we hit the mark heaven has set for us, thereís no way we can hope to win the eternal prize. It is therefore essential that we have proper understanding of the mark we are called to hit.
From the above scriptures, Apostle Paul obviously had good grasp of the mark he was called to hit; at a time he already had to his credit so many great achievements and accolades, even above all the Apostles that were before him, he still openly admitted that he was not anything close to hitting the target! If with all the great things Apostle Paul achieved in over two decades of unequaled commitment and vibrant service to God he still considered himself as having not hit the mark, then the pressing issue in the heart of every serious believer must be that of finding out what exactly is the mark we are called to hit.
The mark believers are called to hit in life has nothing to do with earthly pursuits and achievements. For every believer, understanding of the purpose for which God got hold of us is essential; itís only when we understand Godís purpose that we can pursue in the right direction. First of all, the purpose for which God apprehended us is an eternal one. Setting goals and targets in order to realize physical successes or feats are not bad, but beyond physical achievements, we must recognize that Godís major interest is in things that have eternal values and relevance.
One major mark believers are called to press to hit in life is that of becoming like Jesus Christ. When God gets hold of and saves a man, His ultimate target is to mold him after the image of His son Jesus Christ. Godís earnest desire from the ages has always being that of raising men who truly reflect His image and this was the reason He, in the beginning made man in His own image and likeness. Although Godís original plan was defeated as a result of manís fall given that man lost Godís divine nature and became totally corrupted by sin, notwithstanding, the major purpose of salvation that comes through Jesus Christ, is to restore man back into Godís image and likeness. Conforming to the image of the son of God is the target believers are called to hit in life. This obviously is the purpose for which Apostle Paul declared he was apprehended, and this mark was what he vigorously pursued after his salvation until he breathed his last breath. The mark set by the Almighty God for all believers, is that of conforming to the image of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:29 says: ĎFor whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren;í Conforming to the image of Christ is a lifetime pursuit for all believers and this must top our priority list. Our quest everyday must be that of becoming like Jesus. Eternal prize belongs only to those who have crucified the flesh, whose lives truly reflect Christ.
Another major mark believers must press to hit in order to lay hold on eternal prize is that of knowing God intimately. In fact the highest calling of God to every believer is that of knowing God and knowing Him intimately. It must be emphasized that God is more interested in our knowing Him than our doing Him service! Eternal life and benefits of the cross are all packaged and enveloped in the knowledge of God. John 17:3 says ĎAnd this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sentí. We must understand that One major pursuit of all men who finished strong in life and laid hold on eternal life was knowing God. No venture is worth pursuing in life at the expense of knowing God. If a believer is not enjoying the benefits of the cross, itís because he or she is lacking in the knowledge of God; if a believer is suffering or living below Godís beautiful plans for his or her life, itís because heís shallow in the knowledge of God; If a believer is weak and defenseless, itís because he or she is deficient in the knowledge of God! The great truth many believers have failed to know is that knowledge of God is the foundation of their lives and existence. Daniel 11:32 says ĎAnd such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploitsí. The more we know of God, the more we discover we are yet to know Him! Until we get to heaven and see Christ in glory, our quest for more of God must never cease.
In addition to knowing God, one other important mark believers must press to hit is that of making Christ known to the world. We are called to make Christ known to the world, and this must be an integral part of our daily living. The power of Jesus Christ to deliver and to save becomes real only when He is made known to the world. Making Christ known to the world is beyond religious profession, acts and activities which seem to have flooded our society today. Itís sad that we talk so much about God today but deny Him completely in the lives we live. Religious activities and acts may create awareness or information about God, but the transformation our world needs comes only by demonstration of the life and power of Jesus Christ through believers. Godís heartbeat has always being that of conversion of men from darkness unto His marvelous light, but thereís no way Godís light can expel the gross darkness which seems to have engulfed our world except it shines through His children.
It must be emphasized that we believers must keep our eyes tightly fixed on the mark heaven has set for us so that we do not run in vain. Itís dangerous for us to shift focus from the things which are paramount in the mind of God to purse vain glories and transient successes. It does not matter if the whole world adjudges us as successful in what we are doing as individuals or ministry, the marks heaven has set for us remain the very standards by which the Almighty God will judge us. Whatever our pursuits are, whatever our aspirations in life and ministry are, they must all be such that push us in the direction of the mark we are called to hit. No matter our past achievements or accomplishments in life and ministry, we, like Apostle Paul, must put them behind and press towards the ultimate mark. Likewise, failures and disappointments of the past which are capable of dragging us down from reaching the goals set before us must be put behind. As we look forward to the appearing of the Lord, we must not rest or relent until we breast the tape and hit the mark-the finishing line, so that we like Apostle Paul can proclaim ĎI have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearingí. 2Timothy 4:7-8. May we not miss the glorious prize of eternal life in Jesusí name. Amen.