09 April, 2014
Forgetting the Dung - J.I. Packer, in Knowing God
Excerpt from the devotion book: How Great Is Our God
Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (Phil 3:7)
Not many of us, I think, would ever naturally say that we have known God. The words imply a definiteness and matter-of factness of experience to which most of us, if we are honest have to admit that we are still strangers. We claim, perhaps, to have a testimony, and can rattle off our conversion story with the best of them; we say that we know God – this, after all, is what evangelicals are expected to say, but would it occur to us to say, without hesitation, and with reference to particular events in our personal history, that we have known God? I doubt it, for I suspect that with most of us our experience of God has never become so vivid as that.
Nor, I think, would many of us ever naturally say that in the light of the knowledge of God, which we have come to enjoy, past disappointments and present heartbreaks (as the world counts heartbreaks) don’t matter. For the plain fact is that the most of us they do matter.
But those who really know God never brood on might-have-beens; they never think of the things they have missed, only of that they have gained. “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ,” wrote Paul. “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may know win Christ…. That I may know Him” (Philippians 3:7-10) When Paul says he counts the things he lost as “dung” he means not merely that he does not live with them constantly in his mind; what normal person spends his time nostalgically dreaming of manure? Yet, this, in effect, is what many of us do. It shows how little we have in the way of true knowledge of God.