What do you think would be the principle design of the life of a Christian? John Owen, in his preface to The Glory of Christ wrote, it is to acquaint oneself with Christ, to Trust Christ, to love and honor Christ, and to endeavor after conformity to Christ. “In these things,” Owen wrote, “consist the soul, life, power, beauty, and efficacy of the Christian religion; without which…it is a useless, lifeless carcass.”
This is actually a summary of Paul’s statement in Philippians 3:8-12. Paul counted all his worldly attainments as loss that he might know Christ. I very much doubt a majority of people would count acquainting themselves with Christ a high priority, let alone a defining purpose of life. Everything else would fall by the wayside and be worthless compared to being acquainted with Christ and all efforts and all costs to obtain it would be small by comparison. To know Christ is to truly know Him intimately and personally. Not to know about Him, but to love Him. Yet while He is not here physically, the Spirit of God illuminates the eyes of faith, through His Word, that He speaks to us, comforts us, communes with us. He is present in the darkest trial, He is there in our greatest sorrow. He is there in the times of peace and rest when all is well.
I know Jesus. He saved me from my sins. I know Him as a redeemer, His blood has washed me clean. I know Him as Lord, the shepherd of my soul. I know Him as king in the beauty of holiness. I know Him as the water of life that satisfies and the bread from Heaven that endures to eternal life. It is through Scripture that we grow in love towards Him.
To know Christ is to want to be like Christ. To know Christ is to love him. To love him is to follow him. Paul loved Christ and wanted nothing more than to learn of him, to follow him wherever that may lead. His life belonged to Christ and He desired that life to be conformed in every way to be more like Jesus. Even in suffering, Paul saw it as a way to follow in His master’s steps. Paul was not perfect. He was nowhere near where he desired to be spiritually. He desired Christ, that calling of holiness, the hope of eternal life. So Paul had his gaze fixed on Christ, and pressed on following him and calls us to do the same.
Is Jesus precious to you? Is Jesus the principle design of your life and do you long to know him and be like him? Can you see, with eyes of faith, the sinless lamb of God, covered in blood, dying for your sins, crying out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and not be moved? If Jesus is not precious to you, then you have a religion without power and life.