Hard to believe, but in just a few short days, we will be celebrating Christmas! Now that I am a little older (those of you over 50, please don’t take offense to that statement), I am amazed at how quickly Christmas comes and goes. Sometimes in the midst of all the chaos, I struggle to remember the true meaning of Christmas.
But today I found myself reading Paul’s letter to the Philippians and was struck by his desire to truly “know” Jesus Christ. After giving a resume of sorts which was second to none, Paul writes in 3:7-9, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
How amazing to think that for decades, Paul had been working to build his credentials and be part of the “best of the best” when it came to pharisaical righteousness. But after all those years of scratching and clawing his way to the top, Paul describes his gains as “loss” compared to knowing Christ. All the things that Paul once took pride in, he now considers to be worthless. This is what we might call a “total life makeover.” His one driving passion became Jesus Christ and being found “in him.” And instead of trusting his own righteousness that comes by way of the law, he was banking on a righteousness that comes by “faith in Christ.”
Most of our Christmas celebrations do involve celebrating his first Advent, but they tend to keep Christ at a safe distance away from us. We like “baby” Jesus because he is cute and non-threatening and offers few demands upon our lives. But the Jesus who Paul wants to “know” is not that kind of Jesus. Picking it up at verse 10 of chapter 3, Paul writes, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Paul so desperately wants to know Jesus that he even desires to identify with the sufferings and death of the Savior. Paul’s ultimate goal is to experience the resurrection of the body, something Christ also modeled for him. He knew that in order to truly “live,” he must die (Galatians 2:20, Matthew 16:24), all the while believing that he would one day experience the resurrected life and his heavenly reward.
My question for you this holiday season is this – do you truly know the “Christ” of Christmas? Do you desire to know Christ the same way that Paul wanted to know Him? This type of knowledge will result in suffering and self-denial, but you will also discover a Jesus who is more beautiful, glorious, and desirable than anything you can imagine.