As I wrote yesterday, my greatest ambition in life is now only to know Him (Jesus) more. If you ask most Christians they would admit that they too desire to know Him more. But then why is there rampant 'lukewarmness' in our churches? Why are not more hearts 'on fire' for God? And why (if you know Jesus) do you sometimes or even often struggle with your pursuit of God. I know I have and still often do... It's because of the price of his presence.
The great Apostle Paul, who loved God and sought after Him with all he was, penned the words:
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:8-10)
Paul had already given up everything to know him in verse 8. Then in verse 9 he describes the reason his connection with God is so massive - that he is not trying to earn his way into God's favour by obeying the law of Moses, but that he has believed on Christ, and God's righteousness has been imputed to him by faith in Jesus. But in verse 10 it gets sticky... allow me to break down verse 10 into three parts - a, b, and c -
verse 10(a) - that I may know him and the power of his resurrection -- we like this! I like this! It just sounds so intimate and powerful. Knowing him more. Knowing Jesus more and experiencing same power that resurrected him from the dead in our lives! Awesome!
verse 10(b) - and may share his sufferings -- whoa! Here is where things get a little bit messy, especially with our North American comfort seeking, fun-at-any-cost culture! This line of scripture is something easy to gloss over and not give much thought if we're just trying to get a few chapters read. But this little part of scripture is one of the main themes of the entire Bible! Suffering literally ABOUNDS in the new testament and old testament alike. In fact, the men and women who usually accomplished the most for the kingdom of God were the ones that suffered the most. I'm not talking about a suffering at the hand of the enemy necessarily, but usually a suffering in the form of a way of life - a pursuit of God - that comfortable people have no inkling of.
verse 10(c) - becoming like him in his death -- I would be lying if I said that I even understood 10% of this verse. There is a 'death to self' experienced in Paul's pursuit of God that he is even willing do die for Jesus, perhaps he even wants to. Paul is willing to do anything possible to attain 'more' of Jesus in his life and a greater reward at the resurrection from the dead.
Verse 11 reads - 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
The problem with knowing him more is in the suffering that it takes to know him more. The pursuit of God is a journey into his heart - which is a journey not just of his great love, but also his great sadness, his anger, his thoughts and all the feelings of his heart. It's true that God IS love, yet the journey of following Jesus will cause us to live a life that is not usually comfortable, but always rewarding!
This is why God sent us the 'helper' or the 'comforter' - the Holy Spirit to guide us through and be our main source of comfort and joy!
More on this tomorrow --