Pastor’s Blog for September

Knowing Christ Jesus

“I consider everything a loss 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.”  – Philippians 3:8

The Apostle Paul was a busy man. He had accomplished a great many things in his life. As a Jew, he had tremendous credentials: “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless” (Philippians 3:5-6). Paul had a stellar resume. Yet with all his accomplishments, all his education, and all his virtues, Paul admits openly after his conversion to Christ: “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). Furthermore, “I consider everything a loss 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” (Philippians 3:8).

That’s a powerful statement for a man like Paul to make. Here was a man who devoted his entire life to following the Jewish way, thinking he was doing something good for God. Yet, when it came to knowing Christ Jesus his Lord, Paul admits all that his credentials were “rubbish” (i.e. manure!). For Paul, nothing compared to being “found in Jesus, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 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, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:9-11). Knowing Jesus intimately was all that mattered to Paul!

I admire Paul’s incredible passion for knowing Jesus Christ! I often wonder how my own passion for knowing Jesus Christ, or that of Grace Church as a whole, stacks up against that of this dedicated and devoted Jew turned Christian. Is my/our passion equal to Paul’s? Is “knowing Christ Jesus the Lord” truly the single driving passion and goal of our lives? Would others be able to look at us and say, “Grace Church is truly a church devoted to following Jesus”? No doubt about it, Paul was “sold out” for the cause of Christ, but even more so for knowing Christ on a very personal level. Honestly, his passion and drive to truly know Jesus puts most of ours to shame.

I want to challenge you to consider your knowing Christ in a very deeply personal way. And notice that there is a vast difference between knowing about Jesus and actually knowing Jesus. We may know a lot about someone by reading about them, talking to their friends, or reviewing their resume and accomplishments. But this is very different than knowing that person personally. Before a couple decides to get married, they don’t just review a resume or a list of credentials, they actually spend time with each other and interact on a personal, even day-to-day basis. So too, this is what it means to truly know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, Lord, and Friend.

As September arrives, Grace Church offers a multitude of ways to help us all get to know Jesus Christ, and not just know about Jesus this Fall. A Children’s Church on Sundays, “Fish Net” for children, “The R.O.C.K.” for youth, and Small Groups for adults are all starting again. Opportunities to grow through service and active participation in ministry abound. Weekly worship experiences inspire faith. Fellowship events allow us to encourage one another. The Fall program is starting again! There are lots of things you could do this Fall. Lots of ways you could invest your time. But what could possibly be more important than your pursuit of knowing Jesus Christ your Lord?! Would you commit yourself to growing deeper in discipleship this season? Parents, would you make the Christian education of your children a top priority? Would Grace Church be a church that not only grows wider but also deeper? May we dedicate ourselves to truly knowing Jesus Christ anew this Fall!

Striving to Know Jesus Christ Better,

Pastor Dave Van Netten