Philippians is known as the “Book of Joy.” Though there are quite a few references to joy in this great epistle, Philippians is far more than this. Philippians is a book filled with life-changing exhortation (1:27-30), profound theology (2:6-11), and great aspiration.
This latter category is found in Philippians 3:10-11: “[I want to know Christ], and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
We can summarize this heartfelt plea as the apostle Paul’s (the writer of the epistle) avid yearning to know Christ as closely as humanly possible, even to the point of death. Paul wanted his life to be entirely indwelt by the reality of Christ, to be driven to draw closer to Him every second of his existence.
We can rightly assume Paul is telling us this should be your and my greatest aspiration as well. The question is, How do we achieve this unique closeness of being indwelt by Christ every moment of every day of our lives? Let’s take a brief look.
No Easy Endeavor
Because we live within the confines of a human body of corrupted flesh and blood, seeking to draw closer to Jesus is no easy endeavor. In fact, Paul admits: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12). Paul confessed he still had a long way to go, but that wasn’t going to stop him.
By encouraging both himself and us to continue on in our quest to draw closer to Christ, Paul tells us how to go about it in verses 13-14: “... forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
When Paul says “the prize,” he is most likely alluding to the Ancient Olympic Games, which ran every four years from 776 B.C. through A.D. 393. The Olympics of the ancient world were every bit as popular as they are today, up until and including the recent Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.