Aug 20 8:11 AM
Joy in Growing Closer to Christ
Aug 20 8:11 AM
Aug 20 8:11 AM
Friday, August 20, 2021
I want to talk to you about one of the most basic things of the Christian life. And that's this: once you become a Christian, if you want to live a satisfying, joyful life, you have to get closer to Jesus Christ every day. When I graduated from RIT with my electrical engineering degree, Richard Rose was the president of RIT. And every graduating class would have a little reception at the president's house with some of their other classmates and with our department head. So Dr. Swaminathan Madhu was not only our department head of the electrical engineering department, he was my friend, because I worked for him as a technical lab assistant for the college. And I remember Dr. Madhu said, "Vince, now that you're graduating, you're ready to learn." And I said, "It's interesting, Dr. Madhu, because I've done a lot of learning." He said, "No, all we did was we taught you how to learn on the job." When I got my black belt in November of 1999, my karate instructor said, "Now you're ready to learn." I go, "Wow, I did all this testing. I passed all my katas, my basics, my sparring my upper and lower body basics, all these things and, and now you're telling me I'm going to learn more?" Yeah. I'm ready to learn. In other words, I had the basics. I knew how to do a basic block. But I had to learn shogi, or polish, on my technique, and chudan uchi, where I sprung back on a block and not just stuck it out there, and cover, and different things.
Here's what I want to say to you. When you become a Christian, it's the same thing as what Dr. Madhu and as my karate instructor, Kurt Sawyer, told me: when you become a Christian you're ready to learn. The whole goal of becoming a Christian is not to say, "I'm done. I've got a relationship with Christ, I'm going to heaven!" No, you want to love him more. That's what the Apostle Paul said - learn to love him more than anything. Look at what he says in Philippians 3:7-8, "Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 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. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ."
In other words, all the things Paul had before he was a Christian, the prestige of being a Pharisee and all of that. Nothing compared to the greatness of knowing Christ. Knowing, present participle, not "having known" Christ. Knowing. It's a process. He said he would lose everything if that's what it took to know Jesus Christ. And guess what? Jesus Christ demanded the loss of so many things for the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul experienced as much loss, or more, than any other human being ever has for the sake of Christ. And Paul said he would gladly suffer loss if it meant knowing Christ more deeply. He even says everything else is like rubbish, and honestly, the word for rubbish in Greek, which I've shared on Sundays here a few times, is the Greek word scubula. Excuse my crassness, but it is basically the word for for feces, dung, crap, whatever you want to say. And Paul says, all of that stuff that I had doesn't matter as much as knowing Christ. Do you want to know Jesus Christ at that same level? Do you want to know Christ more? You'd like to become a Christian? Great, now you're ready to learn, like my black belt and karate instructor, Kurt, said. Like the dean of electrical engineering, Dr. Madhu, said. Like Paul, now you're ready to learn more about Jesus Christ. You'll learn more about how to get closer to him. I want to know Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is infinite. That means that you'll never know everything about him. So I want to know more and more every day. Do you? How do you do that? Read the Bible every day. Pray every day, not only for yourself, but for others. Use your gifts to impact the world and share the good news in the church and in the world. Do these things and you'll get closer to Christ and you'll know him more.
Father, help us to know you more every day. Just like we know our spouses if we're married, just like we know our kids if we have kids. Every day we know them more, and we want to know you more, and nothing else. Whatever it costs, it's not worth anything compared to knowing you. Thank you for this. Help us to know you more in Jesus' name, amen.