Thursday, December 8, 2011
Psalm 126 Habakkuk 2:1-5 Philippians 3:7-11
I don’t know how many times I have described the Apostle Paul as the ‘greatest Christian’ of all time or the most powerful ‘Christian missionary’ we have ever known. He was quite a guy. But he was a person like you and me. He struggled. He believed. He worked faithfully to live what he professed.
As a young Christian I often imagined Paul as someone who was so deeply spiritual that I could never even dream of coming close to that kind of connection with the Lord. Then I started reading the various places in the New Testament where Paul shares portions of his Christian testimony. I discovered a man. A dedicated man, but a man none the less.
I learned that he had human longings. He wanted to be understood. He enjoyed relationships with friends and coworkers. He even got angry from time to time.
But those were not the things that connected me to his heart. They made him more human but they did not link my life to his. That happened when I did a study of the Book of Philippians. His teaching spoke to me in a unique way. His prayers became alive. And his heart was exposed. For the first time I began to see the Apostle Paul as someone who did not live at the top of the Christian pyramid. His spirit was attainable because his heart was exposed.
I remember reading chapter three, verse seven…”whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” I realized that he meant what he said. All of the accolades, every personal elevation, all of his education, each achievement was worth nothing unless it was for the sake of Christ. Then verse ten hit me. His declaration rang in my heart, “I want to know Christ…” Here was the great Apostle Paul saying that above everything his one objective was to know Jesus. I resonated with that witness and was encouraged by his words.
I wonder if you would join me in a declaration of desire. Could you say … above all things … I want to know Christ? I want to know his power, his life, his death, and yes…to somehow obtain the gift of resurrection.
This is an Advent declaration that will sustain us on The Road to the Manger, “I want to know Christ.”