It’s almost Christmas, the time of year we celebrate the birth of Christ. Yet the significance of God Incarnate is that we would ultimately be reunited with the Father through Him. To that end in this busy season, let’s stop and take a moment to examine our lives. What is it that is most important to you? If you had to disclose the pursuit that most accurately identifies you–that which your heart craves, around which your life really pivots–what would it be? Is it Jesus–or any one of a number of other things?
“…that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…” (Philippians 3:8-9 NIV)
Truth be told, how many of us can, with the Apostle Paul, honestly say it is that we may “gain Christ and be found in Him?” Yet that is what our life goal ought to be, because if we gain Christ and nothing else, we really do have everything; if we fail in this, nothing else will matter.
This lesson is what Jesus was trying to convey when he told the parable of the treasure:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. One day a man found the treasure, and then he hid it in the field again. He was so happy that he went and sold everything he owned to buy that field. Also, the kingdom of heaven is like a man looking for fine pearls. When he found a very valuable pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46 NCV)
Possessing the kingdom of heaven is possessing Christ. This is what Jesus meant when He said:
“…this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3 NKJV)
Eternal life and God’s kingdom are synonymous with knowing and having Christ Jesus. If we know and love Him, we have eternal life and God’s kingdom is at work in us.
Let’s look at the entire passage today’s verse is found in:
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 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. 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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:7-14 NIV)
Are you supremely focused on gaining Jesus and being found in Him? Because if you’re not, are you sure you have the eternal life you think you do? Jesus warned us to “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NIV) Jesus is the gate; gaining Him and being found in Him is the only way to gain eternal life!
But it’s difficult–not to understand, but to live out. It requires our giving Him our all, and it may require giving up all–if it becomes necessary. Remember what He Himself said?
“…Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” (Matthew 16:24-27 NIV)
Yet it’s worth it! Giving up what we cling to that is of no real consequence in exchange for Jesus Christ and eternal life? How can it even compare! John explains:
“Whoever has the Son has life, but whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write this letter to you who believe in the Son of God so you will know you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:12-13 NCV)
It is possible to have assurance of salvation–but that assurance is through Christ and Christ alone. If we have the Son we have life; if we do not have the Son, we do not have eternal life. I just wonder how many of us deceive ourselves into believing we have Him, when in reality we don’t even really want to! Do you want Him?
Dear Holy God,
Help me gain Christ and be found in Him! In His name I ask, Amen.