From the Pastor’s Desk – Jan 2012

…and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)

Just recently I found myself reflecting on the number of times Paul uses the word “know” in his prayers for the saints. Try counting the number of times for example in Ephesians and Philippians when he writes about his prayer for the believers in these two cities. Paul is not alone. Jesus uses this word also on numerous occasions. In his “high-priestly” prayer recorded in John 17, for example, Jesus prayed, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” What does this mean?

Over the past year I have found myself asking the question, what does it really mean to “know” Jesus? When I sensed a call to ministry and went back to college to study the Bible almost forty years ago, I had no doubt that I was where God wanted me. I was desperate to sink my teeth into something solid. The Bible and theology absolutely came alive for me in a way that it hadn’t up to that point. The experience only intensified during my seminary years. I was like a starving man sitting down to a big turkey dinner.

I guess I’m pretty good at theology now, although admittedly not as good as some, (I think of some of my former professors and favorite authors) and I think I’m OK at biblical exegesis. But if Jesus were to sit down for coffee with me at Starbucks for a couple of hours, or if he were to take a long road trip with me in my truck, just the two of us, what would he say to me? What kind of questions would he ask me now?

I’m not minimizing the value of theology by any stretch; if I had to do it over again I would not hesitate to do the same thing, but I also know that the Pharisees were also pretty adept at Bible study and theology as they knew it, yet Jesus was pretty adept at pointing out to them the missing component. You see, Jesus might just say to me, “It’s just you and me, Tom; just the two of us. I know you.” Along with that would he not also say, “I love you.”? And that’s a really staggering thought, isn’t it.

Think about it. To know Jesus is a whole lot bigger than all our formalities and pretenses. Somehow it seems to me that this is what Paul is saying when he writes, “…to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Yet this is Paul’s prayer for us- that we may really “KNOW” the love of Christ. And he prays this for us because he knows that this is a growing thing in us as we grow and mature in Christ.

As many of you know, I have been praying for revival. I began a number of years ago to pray for revival in our nation. Then I began to pray more close to home, that we might experience revival in our community. Then I began to realize that maybe we need revival in our church. Then I began to think, perhaps I need it in me.

Well, I guess I do. I guess we do. …to know the love of Christ.

Think about it.

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Grace Church Congregational

1055 Williams Street

Pittsfield, MA 01201