My youngest sister has a bit of a crush on the English actor Tom Hiddleston. She is able to tell me which train line “Hiddles” uses when he’s in England and which cafés he frequents. She’s presently in flat denial that his character died in the movie Avengers: Infinity War.
Yet, no matter how excited my sister is when discovering new facts about her favorite movie star, it’s clear that this excitement is incomparable to the joy she feels from loving, and being loved, by someone real.
Her boyfriend surprised her on her recent birthday with a gift she really loved and a beautiful card that he wrote, as well as another gift from all their mutual friends. His thoughtfulness and the intimacy with which he really understood her moved her deeply, in a way knowing about someone from a distance never could.
Not all of us have partners or are married. But all of us are invited to an intimate relationship with a God who knows and loves us beyond compare. When writing to the church in Philippi, Paul tells them that he so values this relationship with Christ, he is willing to “lose” his lineage, his pedigree education, his career, his prestigious rank, and his reputation in order to pursue and enjoy it (Philippians 3:5-6).
It must have been a relationship that really brought Paul a deep fulfillment. He must not have simply known about Jesus—merely knowing the facts about someone does not incite a love that longs to share in the other person’s suffering (v. 10). Paul must have experienced something life-changing and completely satisfying when he met Jesus. In knowing Christ, Paul was set free from the burdens of trying to achieve a good standing before God through his achievements and lineage, but found acceptance through the finished work of Christ on the cross.
The word “know” that Paul uses when he says “I want to know Christ” (v. 10) comes from the Greek word, ginosko. It’s the same word the Bible uses to describe the way a husband and wife know each other in sexual intimacy (see Matthew 1:25).
It’s astonishing to think that it’s possible to have that kind of relationship with God, one filled with the pleasure and fulfillment of being fully vulnerable and fully loved, one shaped by an intimacy so deep that two become one.
But that’s the relationship God is calling us into, so that we may enjoy oneness with Him again. This relationship heals the anguish of being separated from God in the Fall, and it gives us the privilege of being a close friend to share in Christ’s suffering (v. 10).
In being drawn back into oneness with Christ, we “[become] like Him in His death”—dying to our sinful nature and surrendered to God (v. 10), and “attain the resurrection from the dead”—able to spend all of eternity in the presence of His love and grace (v. 11). It is in knowing and being known by Jesus that we become fully alive.
Let us get to know Him. Not in the way we know about a movie star, someone we collect facts about and know only from afar. As we read the Scriptures, let’s invite Him to open our eyes to a new revelation of who He is and how He sees us. Let us pray for that revelation of Him to be so deep and intimate that it turns our eyes from the things of the world, and our reliance on ourselves, and draws us closer to Him.
—By Nelle Lim, Singapore
Questions for reflection
- In Psalm 139 the writer marvels at how intimately God knows him, so much so that God’s thoughts “outnumber the grains of sand” (v. 18)! Ask God to reveal to you what He thinks about when He thinks of you.
- Is there anything you sometimes find more compelling than getting to know Jesus? Be honest with God and ask Him to give you the grace to desire Him more.
- Do you count everything you’ve gained as “loss for the sake of Christ”? What are some ways you can “gain Christ and be found in Him”?