” But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31
I wonder if our focus has been off somewhat. I mean, I just found out that my focus was off, and I needed a Divine readjustment. I was so focussed on where I thought the Lord was taking me, that I wasn’t focussing on my here and now rightly. And what if we have this focus on getting to Heaven? Is that really what You, Lord, want my focus to be about?
Why did John, through the direction of the Holy Spirit, write all that he wrote? John says it was so that we could believe (pisteuo) that You, Jesus, are who You say You are, and by understanding who You really are, by coming to terms with that truth as absolute truth, it would bring us into a living relationship with You. Or, was John just saying that by this believing, we would receive eternal life because of You?
I think I’ve found that for me, there is a difference between focussing all my thoughts on that future goal and focussing the majority of my thoughts on where I am right now. Sure, Paul talks about running a race to receive the prize at the end. But I wonder where the strength and satisfaction really arise from? Is it the prize at the end? Or is the prize at the end just the commendation of the process, the work beforehand being well completed. By the time I get there, isn’t my satisfaction in the whole process of having persevered and prepared and readied myself in such a way that now I have completed all that was set before me? And now, not only I can say, “I did well,” but there is Someone else who affirms my efforts. Do I really run for the prize or reward or is the real prize or reward the life well run?
I want to look at Paul’s idea of running that race. He starts out in 1 Corinthians 9:23 with “And this I do for the Gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.” Now, Paul has been showing what his race looks like. The allegory hasn’t started yet verbally, but it has already started in his life. But I notice that it has to do with participation, with joint participation. And here, Paul is talking about joint participation with other believers. And I have found this to be an awesome part of Your design, Lord, for our journey, because I am not running alone. My brothers and sisters in You are running this race along with me. And we may be at different “stations” along the way but that gives them, like Paul, the opportunity to give me pointers, or offers me the opportunity to give others pointers and encouragement along the way. Praise You, Lord, for that design! It leads to my success in this race called life in You.
Now, here comes the allegory. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” So, what is this saying? Only one of us is going to get the prize? Well that would be futile. Why run this race of belief then? But that’s not it. In the world the race is all for a physical prize. There are lots of runners but only one wins. And Paul is helping us to look at how a winner gets to be a winner. But we are not running in an earthly race for a physical goal. We aren’t competing against other runners. Our goal is our realtionship with You, Lord. Heaven is not my goal. My crown isn’t my goal. A life wholly given over to You, surrendered to You, and obedient to You is my goal. This is all about my life and what I am doing with it and who I am living it for.
Some cultures do a much better job at getting people to think, not just to take everything for granted. Hebrew thinking was good for that. Everything wasn’t just taken at face value. I’ve noticed that in other cultures too. I must not focus on the race. I must focus on how my life in Christ relates to a race and to it’s preparation. It’s all about how I am “running” my life. The running is the most important part.
“Every athlete excercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” See, we are only like the earthly runner in little ways. The preparation is hard. The only way to finish well is to continue well, to be prepared, and to remain steadfast. But the earthly athlete strives for that concrete prize, a prize that has no value in the Lord. What about us? We run as super conquerors running for our relationship in Christ. You, Lord, are the wreath we run for. I run to remain in Your presence. See, I’m this joint heir with You. I don’t just partake in the race with other believers. You partake in the race with me. The race is all about You and running in You.
But a race is like my walk in You in another way. I race with my body, my soma. But it’s not just about my body. My body is all of me. All of me is pursuing You and pursuing in You. I am subjected to You, in You in mind and spirit, in every part of me.
In Philippians 3:14, Paul says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” See, the prize isn’t Heaven. The prize is the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Jesus has invited us to be united in His Person. Is that what I run for? Does everything about my life shout out, “This is all for You, Jesus. I am all about You.”?
It’s all about the way I am choosing to live my life now and tomorrow. Matthew 7:14 attests, “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” The way I live my life today, moment by moment, and tomorrow, moment by moment, matters. It wasn’t designed to be an easy way. It wasn’t designed to be the most easily accessible way. But it is the only way that leads to life in Christ, to true life, to life that matters. But it’s all about life now. Jesus, You created me to live for You. I bring You glory as a live for You and in You. Then people see the life of Christ in me. Every step I take now matters. When I’m gone from this life, who will see? When I’m gone from this life, how can I invite others into life with You. This is the life I was created to live and glorify You in.
And it had to be a hard life. We need to see our need for You. Let’s not disregard John 3:15,16. What if we looked at that concerning our life on earth also? You, Jesus, died and rose again for each of us so that “whosoever believes in [You] should not perish, but have eternal life.” Sometimes, things in life hit us like a curve ball and we get struck down. But You are perpetually with those who belong to You. Therefore, I may be struck down, but I am not destroyed. Paul agrees with that too. Even should I be sideswiped by sin, I am not destroyed. You pick me up, we deal with it, and I continue in abundant life.
See, the life of Christ in the believer is perpetual, it continues without intermission. No circumstance can interrupt it. Think about that. “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And the love of God is entwined in the life of God in Christ Jesus. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It’s all about this amazing perpetual life in Christ that starts the moment we receive Him as our Lord and Savior. The moment that I commit myself, all of me to Him and in Him, and embark on this race of my life and His life with Him, I’m running with the Prize. And this Prize I run for, well, I can have Him every day and every moment of my life as long as He lives. How awesome is that?!
Oh, Lord, I just want to make sure that I am focussing on what You want me to focus on. And that’s pretty clear. I need to be focussing on You, moment by moment. That doesn’t mean that I can’t stop to think about Your desires for the future, or that I don’t need to do some planning, but I have to watch the here and now so I don’t miss my training that will get me to that point. My life isn’t about attaining You some day although one day I will have fully attained. But to know You now is to have apprehended You now in such a way that You have inhabited my life and I have entered into Yours. So, I haven’t fully apprehended You, but You have fully apprehended me. Lord, let me lead my life in such a way that daily I am growing to apprehend You as fully as You have me. Make my life, day by day, and moment by moment, the reality of life in You.