I want to be a good person who deeply impacts the world for Christ. I want to know Scripture well; to think well. To be a good husband, father, and friend; who profoundly helps my family and friends be all that they can be in Christ Jesus. Further, Scripture teaches that an intimate connection with Jesus Christ is the best way to accomplish these things (John 15). But do I really want Christ? Not just for the sake of those other things. But merely Jesus for Jesus’ sake?
In Philippians, Paul begins with a list of reasons why he should be confident in his abilities. Perhaps not so coincidentally, his list is very similar to my list above. However he says, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (3:7-8). What does he conclude? That all those things are trash compared to knowing Jesus Christ.
Notice, in wanting to know Christ, Paul doesn’t merely want propositional knowledge of Him. That is, he doesn’t want to just know a bunch of facts about Him. Rather, he wants to have the kind of knowledge that one can only have in an intimate relationship. A historian may be the foremost scholar on Abraham Lincoln, but he will never know him as well as Mrs. Lincoln.
Paul wanted Christ for Christ’s sake, even if it meant losing all those other things. I fall short of that attitude often. But my goal, and my prayer for you, is that we would learn to love and desire Christ with such passion that we can each honestly say “I count all those things rubbish so that I may gain Christ”.