Saturday, 31 January 2009

Knowing Jesus and 'knowing' Jesus

I had the pleasure yesterday of spending an hour or two with a Lancaster student who has grown into a close friend. As we were approaching the end of a stretching two-week period of Gospel distribution and mission, we chatted about what God had been teaching us personally.

One of the things that my friend said was that he'd appreciated for the first time what it felt like to be a jar of clay, what it felt like to know one's weaknesses and not to rely on oneself. He went on to say how he'd intellectually understood this before (he said he thought he understood the passages and he certainly knew the cliches) but now he now understood what it meant to be a jar of clay in experience too. There was a real feeling that, over the past fortnight, my friend's life had changed. Grace was no longer just a word for him, it had become a reality.

How common an experience this is! I think of my own life and see that this has happened so many times: that theological truths that I might have been able to agree with, assent to and even explain only later become realities that I experienced and knew all the more deeply.

I was reminded of Philippians 3:10-11 where Paul speaks of a 'knowing' that cuts much more deeply than mere intellect: "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."

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