Apr 6, 2020 1993
What are you desperate for in life? Some people are desperate for love and attention. Others are desperate for financial security.
A desperation for knowing Jesus is always worthwhile.
Others are desperately trying to fulfil career ambitions. Some of these things might not necessarily be bad in themselves; in fact they can be powerful drivers that keep people engaged and productive.
Of all the people in history who have been the most successful, it’s hard to go past the apostle Paul. Although he was executed by the Roman empire, the results of his 30 years of ministry transformed the world. Paul was a key figure in the foundation of the Christianity, and in taking the belief in the risen Christ beyond the walls of Judaism into all the world.
What drove Paul was desperation. But it wasn’t a desperation for wealth or fame. I’ll let Paul explain his desperation in his own words,
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Phil 3:10).
Paul was desperate to know Jesus. That’s easy to say. Most Christians would say that they want to know Jesus. But what was different about Paul was both the intensity of his desperation, and the specific object of his desire.
If you want to know God you need to experience his heart.
We can see the intensity of Paul’s desperation in the preceding verses. When considering the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus, Paul considers everything else, by comparison, to be garbage (vv.7-8).
We can also see the specific object of Paul’s desperation. His desire is to generally to know Christ, but even more specifically, to know him in a very specific sense. Pau wants to participate in his sufferings, and to be like Christ in his death, and to experience the power of his resurrection. It is notable that Paul lists the resurrection first. It’s that that makes it all worthwhile.
Many followers of Jesus today will tell you that that want to experience the power and the glory of Jesus, or even that they want to receive his love and grace. Those are the kinds of things that you’ll generally hear people singing or praying about in church.
But how many people ask to suffer like Christ, or to be like he was in his death?
We mainly want to avoid suffering. Some people become Christians for that very reason – thinking that they will avoid suffering, whether in this life or in the life to come.
But the heart of God is a suffering heart. It suffers for those who suffer. It breaks with love for the pain and the injustice in the world. It comes down and suffers with humanity, and not just forhumanity. If you want to know God you need to experience his heart. And the more you know him, the more desperate you will be to know more of him. Because Christ suffers, to know him deeply is to suffer.
If that’s your desperation too, then you are a very special person in the heart of God.