One of my very favorite series of fantasy books is The Chronicles of Narnia. They are excellent books. The last book in this series is called The Last Battle and it depicts the last battle at the end of the world of Narnia. When the world comes to an end all the Narnian’s have to go and stand before Aslan. He then separates the good Narnians from the wicked Narnians.
While the heroes of our story are watching this one good Narnian cries out, “Further in and higher up” then he takes off running as fast as he could to the west. Our heroes have no idea what is really going on. At last they figure out that the land of Narnia has come to an end. As they start walking westward where the others went they realize they are now in Aslan’s country.
The further westward they walked the more wonderful the land becomes. Then they cried “Further in and higher up” and they started running westward as fast as they could. After they would run for a bit they would see something wonderful and stop to look at it. After a few moments someone would hollar out “Further in and higher up” and they would take off running again until they found something else really wonderful that caught their attention and they would stop.
This went on and on for, well, several pages. The deeper they went into Aslan’s land the better it got. But there was always something even better further on. Until finally they reached the most wonderful thing there was, which was Aslan himself.
I think this is the attitude we should have about our relationship with Jesus. We should always be striving to go “further in and higher up.” When we do this, we see that there is always something wonderful waiting on us. Going further in and higher up in our relationship with Jesus is simply the best thing there is in the world.
To truly know Jesus is the best thing there is. This was certainly the experience of the Apostle Paul.
though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:4-11 (NKJV)
Paul says he’s lost all things but in the process he gained the knowledge of Jesus. Notice his response to this. All the stuff he lost is rubbish compared to what he gained in Jesus. When Paul says he lost all things, he really means all things. He lost family, friends, reputation, career, comfort and wealth. His conversion to Christianity cost him everything. All of those things mattered a lot to Paul before he met Jesus but after he met Jesus they were nothing but rubbish compared to Jesus. For Paul, there is nothing better than Jesus. Knowing Jesus is the best thing ever and nothing even remotely compares to it.
One thing we need to get a hold of is that knowing Jesus is not a one-time experience, it is an ongoing process as is any relationship. Most would say that we know our spouses better now than we did when we were married. It is the same way with Jesus. The Bible says that we are to grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
Part of Paul’s prayer for the Colossian believers is that they would understand this and it would happen in their lives (Colossians 1:10) He wanted their relationship to Jesus to grow. Each of us should know Jesus better today than we did the day we were saved. We should know Jesus better today than we did last year at this time. We should know Jesus better next year at this time than we do today.
One thing I’ve learned is that my relationship with Jesus only deepens if I make it a priority and put forth intentional effort. I don’t go “further in and higher up” on accident. It only happens as I read my Bible consistently, pray consistently and listen to preaching that challenges me consistently. I know for me it’s not enough to do these things just to prepare for preaching. In all honesty, that doesn’t often lead me “further in and higher up” in my relationship with Jesus. I have to spend the time studying the Bible for myself, praying just to spend time with Jesus, listening to preaching so I can be challenged. These things lead me “further in and higher up.” I don’t want my relationship with Jesus to stagnate. I want to end 2014 knowing that I know Jesus better then than I do now. For this to happen I have resolve to do whatever is necessary to deepen my relationship with Jesus.