Knowing and Becoming Like Christ

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to the Father before his crucifixion and voiced this truth, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent (John 17:3).” In this passage, Jesus is seen declaring that all of the world’s strivings for eternal life can be encapsulated in this one truth: eternal life is to know God.

Christianity isn’t about a bunch of rules and rituals we must try to keep in order to work our way up to God. Rather, it’s about having a relationship with God who has revealed himself through Jesus Christ. Our relationship with him results in us conforming our ways to his ways. That means our goal as Christians should be to know him and to be like him.

Paul understood this, and he made it his life’s mission to know the Savior who revealed himself to him on the road to Damascus. Before the resurrected Christ appeared to him, his name was Saul and he was spending his life persecuting and putting to death those who followed Jesus. Saul didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah; he didn’t believe that Jesus was risen from the dead.

But when the truth was revealed, everything changed. He would spend the rest of his life not persecuting Christians, but instead being the one who was persecuted for preaching that salvation comes not by works, but by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The resurrection changed everything for Paul! Listen to what he said in Philippians 3:10-14, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Interestingly enough, Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter to the Philippian church. But being behind bars didn’t stop him from his pursuit of God. His greatest desire was not to get out of prison, but rather it was to know Christ—the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. That was Paul’s goal from a jail cell.

What is your greatest desire? Does it involve a pursuit of temporary treasures that will someday pass away, or can you truly see the value of your relationship with God and its eternal value? In John 10:10, Jesus said that he has come so that we might have life and have it to the full. This abundant life comes through knowing him. What the world has to offer won’t truly satisfy, only Jesus can. So don’t delay, pursue him in the here and now and live abundantly!