Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
The athletic imagery here is vivid. I can see a player pursuing a ball carrier running at full speed, grabbing him from behind, and attempting to pull him down. Unfortunately the ball carrier’s Bo Jackson! But for better or worse, he’s latched on for the ride!
As doggedly as Paul tracked down Christians in his former life, he pursued perfection in his spiritual life. It’s interesting that the operative word in this passage is “press,” which means to “pursue,” or, interestingly, to “persecute.” Paul was undaunted in his mission to become as much like Christ as possible this side of heaven, and to fulfill his calling.
Not many of us have been struck down by the Lord himself and turned around 180 degrees, but this was the effort required to pull Paul to the ground. From there he was all in, forgetting what lay behind–the “one thing” he had to do–with eyes now affixed on a different finish line, expending every ounce of his energy straining for the “upward call.”
I saw two runners in the recent Olympics throw themselves at the tape to win. Something tells me Paul did the same.