Pastor Pat Duffin,
High Prairie Christian Centre
What is your reason for living?
Or, what is your primary purpose in life? Everything in creation has a primary purpose or a reason for existing. For anyone or anything to be successful, it must fulfill its purpose. Why do you exist?
Pondering that question can be a real head trip. We have all grappled with that question at some point in our lives. For many of us, it is a daily quest. No one wants life to be just average. We want our lives to be full and prosperous and purposeful. Many of us would say their purpose is to be a better person – to be a good mother, father, wife, husband, teacher, nurse, mechanic, salesperson and so on.
The Apostle Paul had an answer for that. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he wrote concerning all his many earthly accomplishments and religious activities.
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” [Philippians 3:7-8]
To put it plainly, his purpose and his goal was to know God intimately. For Paul, everything else was secondary or even less. He went on to call all his accomplishments and pursuits “dung” or “rubbish” compared to the surpassing purpose of knowing Christ and becoming like Him in character and purpose. These are not the writings of a religious zealot as in his pre-Christian years. These are the God-breathed words of the Holy Spirit and, thus, the express will of God for every believer.
To achieve that goal, Paul cultivated a laser-like focus in his life. For him, there was only one imperative, one over-arching priority, “one thing” governing his purpose and pursuit, “Not that I have already obtained all this [knowing Christ and becoming like Him], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, 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.”
Leaving behind all his former life priorities, career, accomplishments and even failures, Paul had previously achieved high-ranking religious status as a leader in Judaism, and had become a persecutor and murderer of Christians before his encounter with Christ. He now devoted himself to “one thing” and “one thing” only.
Whatever had happened in the past, whether good or bad, was left behind so that nothing imposed any kind of drag or hindrance on his pursuit of that “one thing”.
Nor did Paul allow any present or future obstacle to divert him or prevent him from pressing on toward his purpose.
Paul’s purpose is a lofty goal that has challenged and intimidated Christians for two millennia. We’ve got deadlines and commitments, problems, and priorities, distractions and obstacles, and though we really want to devote ourselves to Christ, pursuing our true purpose for existing seems to be “a bridge too far”. These earthly matters tend to weigh us down and detour us from the true course.
Nevertheless, in language much like an Olympic athlete, Paul does not allow anything to hold him back. With laser-like focus, against all opposition, Paul devotes himself to “one thing” alone. To that purpose he presses on toward the goal of knowing Christ and being transformed.
While he freely admits he has not yet achieved spiritual perfection, he strives to overcome anything that prevents his daily progress.
That is the answer to the challenge. We may not yet be able to claim spiritual ‘perfection’, but we may claim spiritual ‘progress’. We are all in process, but if we keep that “one thing” in front of us, our progress will be demonstrable and often astonishing.
And that, dear friends, is absolutely achievable in Christ!
It’s time to make the main thing the “one thing”.