By David R. Ferguson
Think about the people who are most admired in this world. For the most part, the adulation they receive is for having one or more of these three qualities: wisdom, strength, or riches. We tend to appreciate those who are bright, intelligent, and knowledgeable. We delight in those who are physically gifted in strength, talent, or beauty. We envy and emulate those who have amassed great wealth. But none of these qualities are what God looks for in people. Isaiah quoted God saying in Isaiah 55:8-9, "`For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' says Jehovah. `For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'"
The Bible, time and again, both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, portrays the right relationship between man and God as one that is personal. In the Old Testament, for example, the Israelites' are always seen in relationship to a living God. Contrary to the image many people have of the children of Israel, they were not simply followers of a legal code or believers in a Mosaic philosophy. Consider, for example, what the prophet Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 9:23-24: "This is what the LORD says: `Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on Earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD."
Paul spoke of having a personal relationship with the Lord when he wrote in Philippians 3:10-11, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
As we can see from the passages above, knowing the Lord is more important than having wisdom, or strength, or riches. "I want to know Christ. I want to know the power of His resurrection." This is Paul's primary desire. This is what Paul wants more than anything else in this life: He wants to know the living, the resurrected Christ, and to know the power associated with that resurrection. He is seeking a personal relationship with a living Lord.
We do serve a risen, living Savior. We do not serve a dead man and neither do we serve a distant, aloof God. If Jesus Christ had remained dead, then Paul could not have written that he wants to know Christ, for one can only know someone who is living. As Paul reminded the brethren in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15:17, 19, "If Christ is not raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins…we are of all men most to be pitied."
May the risen and living Lord and Savior bless you and your family!
- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://lakelandchurchofchrist.web.officelive.com/default.aspx