(A short sermon I shared today for chapel)
A lot of us start the new year full of anticipation, expectations and goals. I guess it’s something to do with new beginnings and a new start, these things get us fired up, gets our passions to run wild. It’s good to be upbeat and optimistic.
So, like many out there, we start the year with resolutions. Some make resolutions to lose weight after gaining kilos during the holidays, set targets for their ministry, plan to travel to a new destination, be in a relationship, get married. It’s good to be intentional about all these things. Because being intentional, we get things done.
I found her suggestions to be refreshing. These might be some suggestions that might help us to think of our own this year.
But we must not forget an important yearly resolution that we constantly have to make. It’s about knowing Jesus.
I used to work in a bookstore and upon recommending a book to a customer for her friend, it was Yancey’s “The Jesus I Never Knew,” she told me that this person already knew enough about Jesus. She didn’t need a book like that. But thinking to myself, can we ever come to a point where we can say that we have overloaded ourselves with Jesus? Not in a million years or for that matter eternity.
Paul states in Philippians that “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…” (3:7-9). We can say as well that this might be the basis on which Paul was building on his statement in verse one on “rejoicing in the Lord,” a statement he continually repeats in this letter. For, calling people to rejoice in the Lord entails some explanation on what it’s worth. As Paul explains, this knowing is worth more than any gain that one might expect, want or hold on too.
A norm that keeps on being explained to us is about what it means when we say knowing Jesus. It’s not about head knowledge, knowledge about Jesus but a knowing that is how one gets to know someone. We all would agree with this. I agree to it. But Paul explains this knowing as something more; to experience life like how Christ experienced his life. Paul explains this as “10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Phil 3:10-11. Here we see Paul is not only interested in the victory of Christ only but makes room for participating in his suffering. For Paul, he was totally possessed in wanting to know Christ on a very deep level, reaching out as far as being one with a life that entails suffering. This is a point that people mostly neglect, for example those in the prosperity gospel movement. There is little if nothing at all mentioned about Christ suffering as being something that we participate in.
This knowing of Jesus as Paul explains it, is a constant progression that entails the life of the follower. The goal of this coming to know which entails one participating in the life of Jesus is to be reunited with Jesus. Phil 3:12-14. It’s not something we sit on and feel happy about and be static but it’s something we strive towards. Paul used words like “i press on to take hold of…,” “straining to…,” and “I press on…to win the prize…” These sentences tell us of an active life not one that is passive. Knowing Jesus is not a passive objective of attainment but something that is active and intentional.
But before we turn to our fellow brothers and sister in a condemning look, judging them as not being passionate enough in knowing Jesus, Paul reminds us that it something a disciple of Christ grows into. It’s not something that comes naturally but something one works out. V.15 talks about maturity as a prerequisite to this level of devotion. But let’s not be alarmed “God will make clear” of this truth to us.
So, we all might or rather have to constantly consider putting the growing concern of continuingly knowing Christ as being a part of our resolutions each year. Let’s not make this any less.