For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 49
“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 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 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— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:1-11
The remarkable conversion of Saul, the adversary of the early church to Paul, the greatest Apostle of the early church is often contrasted with the account of the Rich Young Ruler’s rejection of the Gospel found in Matthew and Mark. In this real-life encounter, a wealthy, successful and very religious young man comes to Jesus asking for the way to eternal life. Jesus essentially tells Him, “if you will gladly surrender all you hold dear- your money, your success and your religious commitment and follow me, you will have eternal life.” The Scripture tells us that sadly, this was not an exchange that this rich young ruler was prepared to make. Why? He did not know the “surpassing worth” of Christ that Paul had come to know personally.
Paul, unlike the rich young ruler, boldly proclaimed that everything in this world is “rubbish” (trash or garbage or dung) in comparison to the worth of knowing Christ. Yes, Paul had also experienced great personal success, but in comparison with “knowing Christ Jesus,” he saw them as worthless. Are these things really worthless? Should Christians reject education? Should Christians abandon their career? Should Christians avoid zeal for their ministry or church?
We can answer these questions by looking to the Word of God for a context-
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23
These passages remind us that we should do all things for the glory of Christ, but anything that takes our affections or attention from Christ is worthless. In the grand scheme of things, what is education, career or ministry if it is not done in Christ, through Christ and for Christ? It will not last and it will not amount to anything in eternity. As the great missionary once famously wrote,
The word for “knowing” Christ is gnosis. This is a very important word that means much more than knowing intellectually about Christ. The word form used here is “ginosko” which means to know relationally and experientially. This same word was also used as a Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. This is an intimate and experiential knowledge!
Salvation is knowing Christ. Not just knowing about Him intellectually, it’s an encounter that results in a relationship with Christ. In modern Christian vernacular, we would say it is more than a “head knowledge,”but a “heart knowledge.”
Jesus said, “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3 Jesus also warned that there will be many who do many wonderful things in this life, but when they stand before Christ in eternity, He will declare, “I never knew you; depart from me.” Matthew 7:23. This startling declaration by Jesus should awaken our hearts to these vital questions:
DO YOU KNOW JESUS?
DOES JESUS KNOW YOU?
It is not enough to know about Jesus. The question is much deeper than that… do you have a personal, intimate, experiential relationship with Jesus Christ? To know Jesus is the greatest and most wonderful treasure of all! It blows everything else out of the water!