“…that I may know Him…”
The man who wrote our text for today had been a Christian for many years. He had founded a large number of churches and was possibly the greatest of the first generation missionaries. He wrote extensively on the subject of theology and church issues. Prior to his conversion to Christianity he had been a leading light in Judaism.
The context of our text describes the many achievements of Paul. After describing how much he had accomplished, he says he counts it all as loss for the sake of knowing the Saviour.
There are many accomplished people in every generation who define themselves by their achievements in life. A certain pride comes with winning awards and having the praise of others. It is altogether too easy to overestimate our significance in the scheme of things when we have attained a certain level of social and professional accomplishments.
When a person of Paul’s ethnic background speaks of knowing someone or something he/she does not mean an intellectual comprehension or having a significant awareness of the detail of a subject. For a Jew of Paul’s day, the notion of “knowing” a person or subject meant to have an intimate relationship to the subject or person.
A person who wrote a book that gave significant detail about marriage but who had been divorced numerous times would not know about marriage according to Paul’s understanding of what it meant to know about something.
So when the apostle spoke of his great desire to know Christ he did not mean that he wanted to know facts about Jesus. He was not talking about having a superb grasp of the detail about Jesus—such as where He was born, how many apostles He had and their names. Paul was seeking a relationship with the Saviour where he would think Christ’s thoughts, experience the emotional life of the Lord and treasure what Christ treasured.
To know Christ was to imitate Him in every aspect of life.
Do you know Christ in this manner? Have you gone beyond an intellectual apprehension of Jesus to where you derive great pleasure from prayer to Him, to where you delight in imitating the Saviour, to where you weep as you see how He suffered for your sins? Is it your great joy in life to honour and praise your Saviour?
This is what it means to “know” the Lord Jesus Christ. May your knowledge of the Lord go far beyond having many facts about Him memorized to where you daily find yourself lost in wonder love and praise when you meditate on Him.