Connections 04.03.2022: Knowing Christ

Philippians 3:4b-16

When I think back to my earlier years, I have a list similar to Paul’s in verses 5-6. I grew up in the Baptist church, meaning I was there as an infant in the nursery, as a preschooler learning from flannel graph storyboards, as a child reading Scriptures and learning the names of Bible books, as a teenager struggling with the big questions of who I am and what I’m meant to do, and as a young adult with all the ups and downs of making a life for myself and finding a way to minister. I checked all the boxes of church attendance, Scripture memorization, prayer, quiet times, and more.

One of the questions evangelists and ministers often ask is, “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?” I heard this question numerous times as a young child—so frequently that, at age nine, I did like many other church kids and walked down the aisle during the invitation hymn, telling my pastor that I had asked Jesus into my heart and wanted to become a Christian. He welcomed me into the church membership and invited everyone to come by and greet me after the service. A few weeks later, I was baptized by immersion. I was saved, once and for all—at least according to the theology of my church.

But I didn’t really know Christ. How could I, at nine years old—secure in my family life, well fed, clothed, and safe? Back then, Jesus Christ was more of a keeper of my purity. He knew my thoughts, which weren’t always pure. He watched my actions, which weren’t always right. He convicted me to do better, which wasn’t ever easy. But I didn’t know him.

The knowing of Christ has come over the decades of my young and middle adult life. It’s come with experiences of highs and lows—a joyful marriage, the births of my daughters, a fulfilling career; crumbling relationships, the sickness and poverty of children in my community, the difficulties of parenting teens. In all of these times, through my repeated readings of Jesus’ story and his words, through my prayers of gratitude and desperation, Jesus has become more and more real to me. I sense him in my daily life, I hear him in my encouraging thoughts, and I try to emulate him in my interactions with others.

Like Paul, “I want to know Christ” (v. 10). Also like Paul, I have not “already reached the goal, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (v. 12). I’m so grateful for the opportunity to know Christ and to make him known to others. May I do this with humility, realizing I’m not yet there but always “press[ing] on toward the goal” (v. 14).

Discussion

  • How and when did you first hear of Jesus Christ?
  • How well do you feel that you know Jesus?
  • What are the ways you’ve learned more about who Jesus is to you?
  • What does it mean to truly know Christ?
  • How can you keep an open mind and a humble heart as more of Christ is revealed to you?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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