“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” – Philippians 3:8
None of us like uncertainty. Uncertainty is a giant billboard on the highway of life which reads, “YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S COMING NEXT.” This makes us uncomfortable and agitated. We carry a gnawing feeling of trying to figure out how and when a particular situation is going to resolve itself.
Paul was staring uncertainty in the face. He was a prisoner of Rome forced to live in a house on the grounds of the elite Praetorian guard, like the Navy Seals or Army Rangers of our day. He was isolated from those he loved. He couldn’t carry on his missionary travels. He awoke each day not knowing if he would be freed or sentenced to die. And to make matters worse, scholars think Paul may have been shackled by six feet of chain to a strong, intimidating Roman soldier.
How would you react if you were stuck in that kind of uncertainty?
For Paul, uncertainty was an invitation to intimacy. It was a setting to know Jesus in a more meaningful way. He was on a relentless quest to not just know about Jesus, but to know Him personally. He wasn’t seeking to casually drift along or coast in his faith. Paul set his heart and mind on an intentional pursuit to have an intimate, experiential knowledge of Jesus.
The phrase, “what is more”, is a way for Paul to truly emphasize that he means what he says. The concept is difficult to translate into English, but it’s something to the effect of, ‘indeed, more than that, I therefore affirm.’ We would say something like, “this is waaaay beyond that!” In other words, Paul doesn’t allow the fact that he’s a prisoner to diminish his passion to know Jesus more.
I’m challenged by Paul’s unquenchable ambition to know Christ more in the midst of unpleasant circumstances. I’m often tempted to use stress as an excuse to place my walk with Jesus on the back burner. Paul allowed the flames of uncertainty to ignite within him a desire for deeper intimacy.
In his classic book, Knowing God, J.I. Packer writes, “Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.”
At its core, life is about knowing God and having a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
One day this season of uncertainty will pass. We have a choice- will it propel us into deeper intimacy with Jesus or cause us to drift further away?
What would it look like today to take a step towards deeper intimacy with Jesus?
Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director of RFTH