Tuesday, May 05, 2009

knowing Christ

If anyone knew Christ, surely we might think it was Paul, who after all had a blinding appearance of Jesus on the road to Damascus, which completely turned him around, and by God's working altered not only his life, but the lives of many, to this day.

Yet we read from Paul in words of great aspiration:

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's drive is evident in this passage, and in those words. Yet we would think that Paul already knows the Lord. And he does, just like every person who has a living faith in Christ does. But I wonder if at times it seems like we hardly know the Lord at all. We can get so taken up with other things that our communion with Christ can become something we take for granted, or don't treasure as we should.

Part of the joy in getting to know someone is the longing and anticipation for that knowing. I think this is in part what Paul may be getting at in this passage. He wants to know Christ so much better. He has tasted and seen that the Lord is indeed good, and he wants much more. And I think God grows our capacity for more intimacy and communion with him, so that what may have been good for us three years ago or less, is not good enough now.

Participation in Christ's sufferings and becoming like him in his death are words with an aspiration which may seem foreign to us. Yet if we're to be true followers of Christ this aspiration needs to become more and more our own. Not something we can do, but something done in us by the Spirit as we seek to follow on with Christ in the new life in him.

I'm seeking to be a true follower with the same aspiration, by grace. Which surely means some hard times, inside and out, but with a closer communion with Jesus and others in Jesus, while seeking to bring others into that same communion in him.

What might you like to add to this?


Spherical said...

I think that we know the Christ that we are comfortable with. The one who promises to comfort and care for us. I think we don't know the Christ who challenges us. The one who tells us to take up our cross, walk the extra mile, turn the other cheek, and as you say, the one who invites us to share in His sufferings. Yet they are both the same Christ.

Anonymous said...

this got me to thinking about paul and stephen. i wonder how any thoughts about stephen changed his way of how he lived his life as well as the encounter with Jesus.

the message and who steven was addressing was different for paul, yet, steven was still a man that faced death and suffernig through his belief.

it seems we are continually moved along and brought to places of rest and also places of testing that refine our faith.

we start to understand the importance of "following" through the suffering as well as the joy or rest. there are only two choices to believe or to fall away from our belief.

the question is, if we do not communicate with God, do we really believe in God?

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. Good point. The one who tells us to come to him and find rest, is the one who tells us to take up our cross and follow him. You really can't get either one, without the other.

Ted M. Gossard said...

As always I appreciate your thoughts. I certainly have surmised that God used Stephen's testimony and martyrdom in Paul's life with reference to Paul's conversion. Certainly God used in in Paul's life as in any Christian's life, but Scripture does not say that Paul was pondering the witness he had experienced of Stephen.

Yes. God is personal, an aspect at the heart of who God is. And we must relate to him in a personal way, and see all that he is doing in that way as well. I am slow of heart to really believe, I'm afraid. Seems that so much is against us in this world, at times. But that's in part why we need this faith, for sure.