“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”
— PHILIPPIANS 3:14 (NRSV)
There is a point at which we, as the people of Christ, become so captivated by the call of God that is, by nature, heavenly.
It takes our breath away. It lifts us higher than the world. It takes us beyond football chat and into the realms of possibility for the things of life that would speak into life itself.
This is something of the goal of Paul.
The apostle has not considered himself to have reached the goal yet; and how could he have possibly reached it yet? It is a heavenly goal. Yet there are two realities: heaven in the ‘now’ context as well is heaven in the ‘then’ context.
But Paul considers himself to be in the situation, driven, by the imperative of a call upon his heart and life to see Christ realised not only in his mind, but in the reality of his life, as it is unveiled in the lives of others. For Paul there is a prize that is sought; a prize he works for by faith; a prize he takes not for granted, yet knowing it is vouchsafed in the precious entity of salvation—a prize guaranteed.
Making the Upward Call a Reality
As we press on towards the goal of that heavenly prize, we respond to the heavenly call—the “upward” call.
We, who share in the marvellous hope of receiving that inclusive prize on that heavenly day, can celebrate the thought, yet today. For each, is there not only the possibility of pleasing God now, but the reality of having known we have pleased God then, as we receive our prize in heavenly realms having transitioned from this life into the next.
In gaining Christ we lose nothing of real significance.
In having gained Christ in this life we have everything we need; a significant down payment—an endowment—for this life that has its full realisation in the next life.
And though we are upwardly called, we may not actuate that call, though we have the opportunity to make that call the bearing by which we live our entire lives. It’s up to us as individuals to live as we have this prize already in our possession, yet still have to attain of it.
As Christians we are upwardly called: we realise the truth of the reality of this life; that this life has no significance unless it finds its significance in the next life—that for which Christ has called us. We suspect this is true when, at last, we make choices of true significance over our previous choices that had no true bearing on anything.
The choice to actually live and not simply exist has to be a deliberate one; we must live as if there is a prize, and there is, and we will receive it on that day perhaps far in the future, but always oh so near.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.