I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Philippians 3:8).
One thing is for sure: Christianity is not for stoics. The Bible is the most wild, romantic book ever written. The New Testament is no cool, reasoned analysis of Jesus’s system of thought. It is a passionate book written by people who were ravished by Jesus, who felt and said ardent things like Philippians 3:8.
You know what the world calls statements like Paul’s? Religious extremism. Fanaticism. You “count everything as loss”? Sounds dangerous. Have you thought about seeing a therapist?
But the world is full of such talk when it comes to romantic love. We expect lovers’ language to be obsessive and imbalanced. Listen to the way the poet John Keats speaks to his beloved Fanny Brawne:
You have ravish’d me away by a Power I cannot resist: and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured often “to reason against the reasons of my Love.” I can do that no more — the pain would be too great — My Love is selfish — I cannot breathe without you.
Keats’s overwhelming passion gave him a profound insight (in the same letter):
I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for their religion — I have shuddered at it — I shudder no more. I could be martyred for my religion. Love is my religion and I could die for that. I could die for you.
Paul is no fundamentalist extremist driven by fear or anger to force his creed on others. He’s a man in love. Keats idolized Fanny. Paul worshiped his Lord.
Christians are people in love with Jesus. He’s not our worldview; he’s our Bridegroom. We pour over the Word and pray to commune with our Beloved. Theology is only worth studying to help us know him! Preaching, teaching and evangelism is not our vocation or obligation but a longing that others know him too. “For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).
Here’s a passionate prayer written within Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ that I find relevant.
Eternal Father… we must thank you because you have made us taste and see the glory of Jesus Christ, your Son. Oh, to know him! Father, we long to know him. Banish from our minds low thoughts of Christ. Saturate our souls with the Spirit of Christ and all his greatness. Enlarge our capacities to be satisfied in all that you are for us in him. Where flesh and blood are impotent, reveal to us the Christ, and rivet our attention and our affections on the truth and beauty of your all-glorious Son.
Amen! Oh, to know Jesus so well and love him so much that we count all else as loss in comparison!