“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
“For the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
The word “prize” is a poignant expression connoting a wreath or crown. They bestowed a wreath upon the victor in the public games of the Greeks. They also placed a garland of ivy upon the head of the winner. The garland did not look like much, however, the assets that went with the wreath were the real prize. His home city publicly lauded the victor. He no longer paid taxes, which was no meager advantage! The city made a statue of him and put it in the public square.
The Bible lists five possible “crowns” a believer may receive when he meets his Lord. At a given signal, the saints in glory will cast their crowns before the throne of Jesus (Rev. 4:10,11). Will you have a crown to cast before his throne?
The prize for the believer is the place of victory. Victory is when a person reaches a place of strength and maturity in Christ. Christ has become the center of his life, not in a peripheral place.
The “upward call” is when the believer is called to glory to meet his Lord. It is when God recognizes whether the believer has reached a point of maturity in Christ. The central question asked by God is whether we lived our lives centered around the glorification of Christ.
When we arrive in heaven, we will receive our “prize.” We do not receive the prize before heaven. We get it at the finish line. This is that for which Paul was “driving” or “pressing forward” (3:14a).
“In Christ Jesus” is our positional truth before God in Christ. We hold the same status before God, as does Jesus Christ. When we stand before God at the upward call, we will stand there “in Christ.” Our right to stand before God is our standing in Christ. Eternal life will not be more real than than it was when we received Christ as our Savior. At that time, God will not question whether we should be there in heaven. The question will be, What did we do with our Christian life? Was it a profitable life, or did we waste it?
One day each believer will have an upward call to meet his/her Savior.
God’s call will be based on our status in Christ. Every Christian is guaranteed to see the Lord because of that status. Every Christian will face the Lord’s evaluation of the quality of life he/she spent in time. Are you living for the day you will meet the Lord? Do you anticipate that meeting? Do you focus your life around that future meeting? Paul’s entire life ambition focused around that meeting. Do you live your life around that rendezvous?