When I was a kid growing up in Montreal Canada I used to play hockey. I still remember the greatest thrill of my hockey playing days was a tournament we played at the Montreal Forum, home of the legendary Montreal Canadians. My position was that of the goaltender, and in those days goalies didn't wear facemask, helmets or throat protectors. Needless to say you had to keep your eye on the puck.
As a goalie, playing for the Rosemont Eagles, I had three goals to attend to in order to do a good job:
- Make sure no pucks got passed me into the net for a score.
- Pass the puck whenever I could to my team-mates so they could score.
- Avoid getting hit with the puck traveling at 60-80 mph. towards my face.
Each goalie had their style of play; each had different team loyalty and skill levels but every one of us shared these three basic goals.
- Nothing gets by.
- Get the action out of your zone.
- Don't eat the puck.
I tell this little story to highlight a similarity in the Christian game of life. Each of us as Christians come from different backgrounds; we may emphasize different points of view as far as teaching is concerned; we were trained and grew up in different congregations and have different gifts. But each of us as Christians have the same basic personal goals. I'd like to share with you the three goals that every Christian must pursue in order to succeed in Christian living.
Goal #1: Transformation
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Romans 12:2
This is the appeal that Paul makes to the Christians he writes to at Rome. Now that they have become Christians they must be transformed from what they were to what God wants them to be. The word transform is from the word Metamorphosis meaning a complete change not just a superficial one. Like the caterpillar to the butterfly.
Paul says we must pursue this transformation. We have God's help but we are not completely passive in this. Pursuing this transformation, he says, requires several things on your part:
Don't be conformed to this world
We must avoid the influence of the world to become like it in our habits, our attitudes. Requires us to consciously resist efforts to make us think and act like sinners and unbelievers. When people see you - do they see Jesus, or the world?
Renew your mind
Change the way you think. Line up your thinking with God's word. Think like Jesus thought. Continually ask yourself, "what would Jesus do, what does God want, how can I please my Lord, what does the Bible say?" What you say and do is based on what you think so that's the first place to begin the re-education (transformation) process.
Discover God's will
The renewed mind even seeks to know what is the good, acceptable and complete will of God (To prove means to test or find out). It's a question of focus.
The transformed person is one whose life focus is to understand and carry out God's will. So the first goal of each Christian is to transform his/her life by rejecting the world and its sinfulness and begin to concentrate on knowing and doing God's will. You know that you're pursuing the right goals as a Christian when it becomes very important to you what God's will is for every facet of your life.
Goal #2: Fruitfulness
My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
- John 15:8
In this passage Jesus is talking to His Apostles:
- He chose them.
- He trained them.
- He taught them the whole word of God.
But He tells them that once having received these things they were responsible to do something with it. God is glorified by much fruitfulness. Being chosen, trained and taught was not enough - they had to prove to the world and the Lord that they were sincere and genuine disciples of Jesus. Some think that that baptism by immersion or a cappella singing is the proof of one's genuine discipleship but Jesus adds that fruitfulness is also a sign. Now fruitfulness is seen in many ways:
A. Obedience to the word.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;
This is where baptism and a cappella music come in. We bear the fruit of obedience when do what God commands us in these and other matters. But this isn't the only way to demonstrate fruitfulness.
B - Soul winning
15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
- Mark 16:15-16
We are to preach to the whole world the gospel and win souls for Christ.
C - Service
At the great judgment scene that Jesus describes in Matthew 25 He lists the good works that He expects from His disciples. These include - feeding the hungry; providing hospitality; providing clothing and shelter for the poor; visiting those who are in prison or ill.
These are not an exhaustive list but we should check and see if we are producing fruit in at least these areas. Some complain that they have no time for these things, or they don't feel like it, or it's not their ministry. Most of the time the problem is that we're too busy pursing other goals instead of this one.
- Career advancement
- Comfort and recreation
- Creating a quiet and out of reach position for ourselves.
Certainly some are ill, some are extremely committed but there is always time and opportunity to produce some fruit - if you really want to. It's very important to do so because Jesus will reject those who bring Him no fruit when He comes to judge us on the last day.
Goal #3: Faithfulness
But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
- Matthew 24:13
Let's face it; the ultimate goal is not to be destroyed, but to make it into heaven.
While playing goalie I did let in some goals and couldn't always control the play, but if I would have been hit in the forehead with the stone hard puck at 80mph I could have been seriously injured or even killed. That made not getting hit my #1 goal by a wide margin.
Nothing else counts in Christianity if you don't make it to heaven.
So when Christians are making decisions, about friends, work, marriage partners etc., the most important question to ask should be "How will this affect my #1 goal - going to heaven?
If it, whatever it is, creates an obstacle, slows you down, poses any threat to this goal - don't do it! Jesus said:
...what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
- Matthew 16:26
Nothing or no one should get in your way of going to heaven. Everything we do here: worship, Bible class, mid week service, ministry areas, even individual discipline when needed - is all done to help each member stay focused on their #1 goal, going to heaven.
It's never too late to reevaluate and reestablish our goals because it's easy to because confused, discouraged, drift away because of busy schedules, problems too many amusements or even the offenses caused by our own brethren. In beginning a new ministry hear in Montreal in July a time of renewal and re-commitment so I encourage you to shake off the dust, wipe the slate clean and re-order your priorities beginning today. If you're a Christian, remember what your goals are, given to you by God:
A - Transformation - so you can become more like Jesus, less like you. For new Christians this is what you have to begin learning; for older Christians that's what you have to start showing.
B - Fruitfulness - so you might bring a harvest of good works to the Lord. For new Christians this means finding your talents and putting them to use. For older Christians this means helping others develop their talents by your example and teaching.
C - Faithfulness - so you can reign with Jesus forever in heaven. For new Christians this is the #1 priority that will now guide your life. For older Christians this means that they may retire from their jobs, but they never retire from being faithful to Jesus.
If you're a Christian and you haven't been pursing these goals or didn't know you had to, I urge you to commit yourself to them today while you still can. Your never know how long you have to re-order your life. If you're not a Christian you're one and only goal is to be saved and you can do this today by:
- Believing in Jesus as the Son of God.
- Acknowledging or confessing that belief publicly.
- Repenting of your sins.
- Being immersed / baptized in water.
Make sure your goals are set today.