”Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ”. Philippians 3:8 (NLT)
Knowing Christ is what makes us Christians. We know Christ and have decided to follow Him. We want to know Him better. We wouldn’t be following Him if we had never met him or realised his worth. But how well do we go at explaining, in practical and understandable terms, what it means to “know Christ”, to “know God”. This is something that non-Christians often really don’t understand. What does it mean to have a relationship with God, what does that look like? We need to get a whole lot better at explaining this.
Probably a good place to start is to talk about what it means to “know” another human being. If you know a person it means you have met him, you have knowledge of their name, appearance, you have encountered their character and spent time with them. Just a knowledge of their existence is not actually “knowing”, just as you don’t know some random Facebooker who applies to be your friend, or some far distant cousin you have heard exists, sitting far out on a branch of your family tree. Knowing is about a relationship.
So knowing God means having a relationship, which has a beginning point. This may be for some a slow and gradual growing relationship starting in childhood, or it could be a sudden meeting in a dark alley, as with a stranger. And once you know Him, how could you forget – His character, His love, His grace is irresistible. HE draws us into a relationship with him, and we grow to know Him better, as we spend time soaking in His story which is revealed to us in all the pages of the Bible. He speaks to us there. We know and understand more of His character and ways. We speak to him in prayer.
And He is not far from us; He is with us. His Spirit, the Spirit of His Son has come to live in us! And we are IN Him! We are found in Christ, wrapped up in His righteousness and made perfect in Him. How much closer could this relationship be? One song my youngest daughter sings at school asks about The Creator (which is the song title): “What if he was much closer, Closer than your toaster, closer than your tie?” An interesting way to phrase it!
To me, knowing Christ means I am in the growing process of having my selfish and sinful desires replaced with his desires. I know peace with God, forgiveness through Christ’s finished work on the Cross. So I want to follow His agenda and align the desires of my heart with his. I want to obey and please Christ. I want to know Him better – He is the Word of God to us. None of this comes from myself! I am certain of that. So I know I know God because of this.
How would you go at explaining what it means to know Christ? Casting Crowns has attempted to answer this very question in the song below – and the emphasis is on that desire to grow in knowing.
TO KNOW YOU (Casting Crowns)
To know you is to never worry for my life, and
To know you is to never to give in or compromise
To know you is to want to tell the world about you ‘Cause I can’t live without you
To know you is to hear your voice when you are calling
To know you is to catch my brother when he is falling
To know you is to feel the pain of the broken hearted ‘Cause they can’t live with out you.
More than my next breath, More than life or death
All I’m reaching for, I live my life to know you more
I leave it all behind, you’re all that satisfies
To know you is to want to know you more, To know you is to want to know you more
To know you is to ache for more than ordinary
To know you is to look beyond the temporary
To know you is believing that you will be enough ‘Cause there’s no life without you
More than . . .
All this life could offer me, could not compare to you, compare to you
And I’ll count it all as lost, compared to knowing you, knowing you