Summary: Three invitations to know God
Can You Hear Me Now?
Woodlawn Missionary Baptist Church
February 26, 2006
In the early ‘90s one of the great coaching phenomenons in the NFL was Jimmy Johnson. You remember how he came into the league and took the helm of a struggling, mediocre football team and turned it into one of NFL’s greatest success stories. In fact, it also began one of today’s coaching pitfalls. Some owner doesn’t like his team’s performance, so he hires the latest, greatest coach and puts him on the job. If he’s not delivering a playoff team in a couple of years he’s out the door.
When Jimmy Johnson was coaching on the college level, he had a wife and the appearance of a marriage. This was expected of college football coaches. The wife and family were needed for social occasions, but soon after he was named head coach of the Cowboys, he set out to rid himself of the excess baggage. He didn’t loose any time in loosing the wife and family, and later confessed that he never bought his boys birthday or Christmas presents. He didn’t have the time and they weren’t a priority. He single-mindedly threw himself into his football team, and in January of ’93 he made it to the top; the first of his three Super Bowl wins.
Whenever I think of Jimmy Johnson, I cannot help but think of the day we will stand before Jesus Christ. Hebrews 9:27 says that “it is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment.” Coach Johnson took the NFL by storm, but unless he has trusted Jesus Christ as His personal Savior and then lived his life for Him all of his fame and fortune will mean nothing. It certainly won’t impress the Lord.
No doubt there are many great ambitions to pursue in life: pleasure, success, financial security, political power, or being the best at what you do. It may be being a good husband or wife, or any other number of things, but according to the apostle Paul in the text we will read this morning, the greatest pursuit in life is knowing with great intimacy the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s greatest ambition in life was to know Jesus Christ. Listen to me: there is all the difference in the world between meeting someone and knowing someone. When I lived in Mexia I had met George W. Bush. I had my picture taken with him, so I can say that I know him, but I don’t really know him. When I think of the word “know,” I think of the way the Bible uses the word. Adam knew his wife. Abraham knew Sarah. In other words, they enjoyed sexual intimacy. Think about it: I know all of you women in this room. I know some of you better than others. After this weekend in Texarkana, I know Liz and Della and Elizabeth and Jean and Shellie better than I did before, but there’s only one woman in this room that I really know.
Paul wanted to know Christ. To know Christ with great emotional and spiritual intimacy was his greatest pursuit in life. He wanted to know the One who created the earth and moon and stars. He wanted to know the One who lived and breathed our air, who died for our sins and rose again the third day. He wanted to know the One who experienced our life to the full, who tasted its joys, who felt its sorrows, who experienced its possibilities and pains. He wanted to know the One who fully understands, who loves and cares, who encourages and forgives, and who still calls out to us today to know Him.
That’s what I want, and I am confident that’s what you want too, else you wouldn’t be here. As I have considered our text, there are three invitations Jesus extends to each of us so we might know Him in greater ways. Let’s read Philippians 3:7-14 together and then consider these three invitations.
Paul had mentioned in verses 1-6 all of his great credentials that made him the man he was. As a young man he was headed for fame and fortune you might say, but he very candidly says that he willingly threw them all away so he might know Christ.
Our greatest need is a relationship with God through a trust relationship with Jesus Christ. In spite of all he had going for him, Paul said his relationship with Jesus was better.
There is a relationship which makes life complete, and without that relationship, there is a void: a vacuum in life. Many people, even those who are well-known, can attest to that void. For example, H.G. Wells, famous historian and philosopher, said at age 61: "I have no peace. All life is at the end of the tether." The poet Byron said, "My days are in yellow leaf, the flowers and fruits of life are gone, the worm and the canker, and the grief are mine alone." The literary genius Thoreau said, "Most men live lives of quiet desperation." Ralph Barton, one of the top cartoonists of his day, left this note pinned to his pillow before taking his own life: "I have had few difficulties, many friends, great successes; I have gone from wife to wife, from house to house, visited great countries of the world, but I am fed up with inventing devices to fill up twenty-four hours of the day."