Press on to the Goal

On the first Sunday of every year, the College Class always does an exercise based around Philippians, chapter 3. The Apostle Paul, author of this book of the Bible, is writing about becoming like Jesus in His death, and therefore becoming like Jesus in His resurrection. Then, beginning in verse 12, Paul says,

“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. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Our exercise is rooted in “forgetting what is behind and straining to what is ahead.” I ask students to share one thing from the previous year that they will gladly leave behind, and one thing in the new year that they are looking forward to.

There are variations on this - I’ve seen suggestions to list everything you are grateful for about the previous year, there is the traditional New Year’s resolution or theme, and other types. Any of these are fine practices, but I especially like the confessional, transformational nature of leaving something behind and focusing on something better in its place.

Sometimes students don’t take this very seriously, but often they open up and share deep hurts or exciting hopes about their past or future.

Of course, the ultimate goal here is one thing, and one thing only - to know God. Philippians 3 is packed with thoughts on the all-important need to know Jesus. Paul even shares every accomplishment of his life, and then says he considers it all garbage because of the value of knowing Christ.

I would encourage you, even if you don’t tell another person, to think on these things in your own life - what are you happy to leave behind, because it makes you less like Jesus, and what are you happy to press on toward, because it brings you closer to God?

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