I want to know Christ — yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death
Paul says he is quite ready to give up the usual status symbols of the Christian for the personal knowledge and friendship of Jesus Christ. This is not an academic subject. This is not a course in Christology or on the person of Christ. This is not knowing about Christ. This is knowing Him. As has wisely been said, Knowing about has value; knowing has vitality. This knowledge the apostle is talking about is not simply a casual contact now and then. You don’t get to know your friends that way. The friends you know best are the ones you have spent most time with, or at least you have gone with through deep experiences. This knowledge of Christ comes by continual sharing of experiences together. It comes by the two of us, Jesus and I, living our lives together, moment-by-moment sharing experiences. It comes by gazing on the face of Jesus Christ as he appears in the pages of scripture. It comes by allowing every circumstance to make us lean back on his adequate life, hiding nothing from his eyes, by bringing every friendship and every loyalty to his gaze, for his approval or disapproval, by walking every day reckoning upon him to be with us. That’s the secret of a successful ministry.
That is exactly what Paul says comes of knowing Christ. First there is that power of the resurrection. It is a risen Lord who dwells within us, and we have that power which is able to do in us above all that we ask or think, according to that power which works in us. This is the power of Christ’s resurrection. It is power that is perfectly adequate for every possible circumstance. It is confidently acting in full assurance that he is acting with us simultaneously, and that risen power is ours!
The second thing that stems from this knowledge of Christ is the participation in his sufferings. The remarkable thing about the sufferings of Christ is that they are always for someone else, never for one’s self. This is that compassion we all earnestly long for. It doesn’t come by trying. It comes by knowing him; by simply entering into what he is to you. That makes you compassionate. This is the primary reason why Christians suffer. Not so much for you, but for others. Have you ever noticed that when a Christian gets desperately sick and he takes it as an opportunity to manifest the grace of Christ, that Christian becomes the center of victory and hope and blessing to everyone who visits him?
Then the last thing is, becoming like him in his death. What does that mean? The death of Jesus Christ was the end of the old life of sin and self-pleasing. We know that there was no sin nor self-pleasing in his own life, but on that cross he was made to be all that we are, sinful and self-pleasing, and then it was put to death. The cross was the end of that. That is liberty, because for the first time if we accept this as being true, we are set free from our selfish, ease-loving, luxury-seeking. We are free to be real men, real women-uncluttered, if you like. Unbound, delivered, no longer constantly concerned about what happens to us, but only concerned about what happens to Christ.
What a ministry this is! What a marvelous ministry among people the apostle Paul had. Yet it is freely offered to every believer in Christ. I must stress, this is not achieved by trying, struggling, striving. It comes as a by-product of knowing Christ.
Thank you, for the joy of simply knowing you, Lord. I pray that I may know the power of your resurrection and the participation in your sufferings, being conformed to your death.
Do we want to know Christ merely to define our theology and refine our doctrinal views? Are we missing the life-defining pursuit of knowing Christ intimately? How can we truly learn to know Him?