By Ray Stites
“Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you,” are words to a song Oscar Hammerstein II wrote for The King and I. The setting was romantic, not doctrinal, but the song speaks to an important question.
How do we know someone? The question was often present in my mind when we interviewed a person for a staff position. We could read the applicant’s academic accomplishments and work record. We could form an opinion from the interviewee’s appearance, body language, and responses to questions. We had references from those who knew him. But did we know him?
Of all the material written on the life of President Abraham Lincoln, perhaps William Sherman’s sentence in Memoirs of General William T. Sherman (Applewood Books, 2008) reveals him most clearly: “Of all the men I ever met,” he wrote, “he seemed to possess more of the elements of greatness, combined with goodness, than any other.”
King Solomon was renowned for his wisdom. The measure of his wisdom is that his prayer was for wisdom. We marvel at many things Solomon did. But to read that he had the insight to ask of God for the gift of wisdom is amazing. Perhaps the essence of a person is shown more clearly in his questions than his answers.
In this week’s Scripture the apostle Paul revealed himself as clearly as anyone can. He focused on what he wanted to know. He wanted to know Christ.
Paul left no room for misunderstanding his search for knowledge. He sought first-hand knowledge of Christ’s suffering and the power of his resurrection. Paul knew many things, but if we are to know Paul, we must understand he thought the most important thing was to know Christ.
What about you and me? How are we known? Do we possess clearly defined character traits about which an acquaintance could write as Sherman did of Lincoln? Does our lifestyle demonstrate our focus on Christ and encourage others to do the same?
Tombstone epitaphs can be revealing. If Paul had a tombstone, it would have been inscribed with, “I want to know Christ.”
Ray D. Stites is the CEO of the Christian Churches Pension Plan. He and his wife, Merelyn, live in Tonganoxie, Kansas.