I want to know Christ – Philippians 3:10a (NIV)
In my last post I made the case for enjoying God. When I sat down to start writing this post my intent was to discuss practically how we go about enjoying God. However the more I thought about it, it dawned on me before I wrote of how to enjoy God I needed to address preparing to enjoy God. If you’re inviting guests to your home for an evening of fun or entertainment you’re likely to prepare first by cleaning your home and cooking food. How do we prepare to enjoy God?
Enjoying God first starts with a heart’s desire to know God. – I’m not speaking here of knowing about God from an academic or purely intellectual sense, but coming to know God as a person. It is noteworthy in the language in the King James Version of the Bible that the word “know” is sometimes used to reflect marital intimacy, such as in Genesis 4:1, And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain. From a physical contact perspective, this is knowing another person in the most personal, intimate way possible.
From a spiritual perspective, God wants us to know him with this level of closeness and intimacy. This desire must be more than a passing fancy, but a deep seated desire that thwarts all of the heart’s other suitors. Listen the psalmist in Psalm 73:25, Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”
Enjoying God means a willingness to sign God’s “blank check. – Bible teacher Chip Ingram often uses the imagery of a blank check to illustrate our willingness to totally surrender to God. Ingram speaks metaphorically of signing a blank check and sliding it under God’s door and allowing him to fill in the amount. This is a very scary proposition and where many Christians are stymied. It is just the current manifestation the ages old struggle for the will. Will we yield our wills over to God or we will we attempt to maintain control over them ourselves?
Core to the struggle for the will is that we must embrace and own for ourselves the truths scripture have to say about the character of God, that he is good and that he ultimately he has our best interests at heart. Psalms 84:11 reads, For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Romans 8:32 reminds us, He [God] who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Enjoying God means a willingness to undergo death. – Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:38-39, and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. The disciples clearly understood what Jesus was saying. The cross was among the cruelest implements of capital punishment. Even if we are willing to sign God’s blank check, our love of self and all the forces of hell push us to issue a “stop payment.” The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
To fully realize God’s plan and power in our lives this unhealthy love of self must be nailed to the cross. God who is motivated by love will allow or orchestra very painful events and circumstances in our lives to bring us to the ends of ourselves, so that we might begin with him. This discovery of God is infinitely worth more than any earthly treasure or acclaim. Paul recounts in Philippians 3:5-6 his weighty credentials and acclaim. But he counted these things as lost so that compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ (verse 8).
The Apostle actively sought to share in the sufferings of Christ. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (verse 10). I must admit until fairly recently, this verse frightened me. I am in the habit of praying back scriptures to God, and this is that I would never pray. However that has changed. I now pray back Philippians 3:10, not because I am some masochist who finds pleasure in pain and degradation, but because I have come to know that like Paul, the surpassing riches of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord is greatest of all treasuries or discoveries.
At this point, I finally feel like I’m ready to discuss practically how we enjoy God which will be the subject of my next post.