This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature [KJV “perfect”] in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13 NLT
St. Paul used the analogy of the footrace several times to talk about the nature of the Christian life. I want to suggest another one, the American game of football.
In order to achieve the goal in the game of football, it is necessary to gain possession of the ball. It might be through regaining a fumble, or a pass interception, or receiving a punt or kick-off. But you have to have possession of the ball. I suggest this is analogous to conversion. In order to achieve God’s goal for his people, you have to be “in Christ” (2 Cor 5:17), whether the result of a prayer at a mother’s knee, or at the altar of a church, or with C. S. Lewis, on the back of his brother’s motorcycle. Without that saving relationship with him, we are the victims of our sin, constantly on the defense against deceitful self-worship and voracious desire. In the end, the winners at football are those who kept possession of the ball and the losers are those who did not.
But possession of the ball is not what the game is finally about. Yes, possession is absolutely necessary. Without the ball nothing can be accomplished. But if, possessing the ball for 7/8 of the game, we only move it back and forth at midfield, we miss the point, and perhaps at the end of the day will lose the game. The goal is to move the ball down the field and eventually push it across the line at the end of the field. That line is called the goal line for a reason.
What is the goal of the Christian life? It is to grow up into the full character and nature of God in Jesus (Eph 4:13). That’s why he saves us from the captivity of our sin, to make us like himself. He intends to make us all we were ever meant to be. That’s the goal line!
So where are you? Does he have you first and ten on the opponent’s 20-yard line! Or fiddling around on your own 20-yard line? Personally, I want to hear, “Touchdown!”