What is Your Aim?

Written by Devon Bowman

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” –1 Corinthians 9:24-27

When talking about aim I cannot help but think of every villainous army in the history of cinema. If you are a movie lover and nerd like myself you most likely had a few unfortunate stormtroopers in your mind when you read the last sentence. They have an extreme talent in that they cannot help but miss their target. They are fodder for their enemy, they have no shot, they seemingly take aim but are never able to hit their target. We laugh and give the obligatory comment to the unfortunate barn door whose broadside is our natural target.

It makes you ask the simple question, what are they aiming at?

There is an understanding in marksmanship that you hit what you are aiming for. That is why when you are taught as a child how to handle a gun, one of the first rules is that you never point it at anyone or anything you do not intend to shoot. It is ingrained in you from the moment when you start that where you aim matters.

So what does the example of marksmanship have to do with the aim of our lives? The point is that our lives are moving in a direction and that direction makes all the difference.

This understanding helps us to focus in on what Paul is saying to the Corinthian church. When we look at our lives as Christians we understand that all people are in the race. We are all participants in life on this Earth. Just as in a race we understand that all runners are participating for a goal. The difference between the runner and the Christian is our understanding that we are running not for a shiny medal but instead for an imperishable and eternal reward in Christ. With that reward in mind, how, then, do we run?

When we look at elite athletes we see people who are most of all devoted to their craft and disciplined in their pursuit. I believe that our admiration of these traits are some of the reasons in which we so admire and idolize athletes. We see in these individuals what we desire to see in ourselves, a devoted and tireless pursuit of a higher goal. Olympians train hard and eat certain foods because they are focused on a gold medal. College football players go through the rigors of fall camp because they desire to hoist the national championship trophy. Even politicians (love them or hate them) work tirelessly on the campaign trail because they know it is what it takes to get elected. Each of these examples are of people who take aim and are wholeheartedly focused on their target.

What would we say if we heard that an Olympian started skipping their training? What if a college football player skips class and gets suspended? What if a politician refuses to listen to voters in an important district? We would all agree they each lost focus. Their aim changed. They forgot their higher goal. They ran aimlessly.

Paul understands that we are prone to aimlessness. We are prone to disqualify ourselves from the grand goal and most important aim because we refuse discipline and we neglect our aim. Paul understood what his grand aim was. “(A)nd thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named” (Romans 15:20).  He knew that this ambition was a high calling and this high calling would never be realized if he did not exercise discipline, if he did not aim well.

The enemy of aim that Paul points out here is the flesh. The desires of our flesh that call out to us tend to demand our attention more frequently than godly ambitions. We say we want to lose weight but we still eat the same amount of food. We desire the promotion at work but we do not work hard in our current position. We say we want to be a better father or mother but we watch TV instead of spending quality time with the kids. We are adamant about our need for the Bible and yet we spend every spare minute on TikTok and our Bibles are still unopened. We lose our aim.

I believe that our tendency for aimlessness is one of the foundations behind 1 John 2:15-17. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” This seems to be a bit extreme upon first reading. You may ask, does it really take all that? I believe that G.K. Chesterton in his book Heretics has the correct assessment when he says, “the moment that we care for anything deeply, the world–that is, all the other miscellaneous interests—becomes our enemy.” When we desire to aim well, all other aims become the enemy. They become a distraction that can take us off our course. They can be the siren call that lures us away from home when we know that is where we should be.

As a Christian what should our aim then be? We must aim at the command of Jesus to go and make disciples of all the nations. We must aim at personal holiness “without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). We must aim for healthy families and to be the priests of our homes. Aim for the higher and greater. We must aim for a knowledge of God in the scriptures and through prayer.

In this life we have been called beyond the dull and miserable cravings of the flesh. Our life is not merely a quest to draw a paycheck and live in front of the TV. There is greater satisfaction in a conversation between friends than a like or comment on social media. The call to aim higher is not one that is dull or futile. It is a call that is the reason for our creation. We worship and glorify God when we aim at what He calls good.

 “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth 'thrown in'; aim at Earth and you will get neither.” -C.S Lewis
Christian, aim at heaven.

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