Sometimes its nice to turn the Bible "up to 11" by plugging it into an AMP. There's some truly lovely translations in some verses. Take this for example:
"Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognising and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One),
And that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith.
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognising and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [[b]which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]
That if possible I may attain to the [[c]spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].
Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own."Philippians 3:8-12 (AMP)
Look at those words... blink in another version and you might miss them. The Amplified version of the Bible doesn't always make for the easiest reading in terms of flow... but it's wonderful sometimes to really suck the marrow from scripture... to drain every last drop that your understanding can hold. I find that the AMP really does give you opportunity to chew your food when studying the Word, and it is for that reason that it takes pride of place on my iPhone along with the NIV.
This post isn't an advert for the AMP, if anything I would encourage anyone to find a version of the Bible that they can get along with (I find one that gives you a balance between readability and challenge in study is usually the best choice, personally). I just wanted to take a little snippet from the above passage and exhort how mind blowing it is.
"For my determined purpose is that I may know Him; that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognising and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection"
Wow. Just... wow.
What I love about Paul's writing here, is that it is so abundantly clear that he isn't describing mere religion... but absolute life affirming relationship. If we didn't have the context of the verses surrounding it, you might think he was talking about his depth of feeling for a lover. For those of you who know the privilege of romantic love, I imagine those few lines describe quite succinctly how you hope your relationship will develop - that the person you have deep affection for will continually reciprocate your feelings and that as you spend time in one another's company, you will grow equally in understanding, wonder and excitement of the person you know more and more each day.
That's what Paul wants with Jesus. That's what Paul wants for you... and far more importantly, that is what Christ requires of us - an intimate, ever growing love.
I also love the how Paul describes how he wants to go about this... "For my determined purpose"; he turns away from the distractions, fades down the white noise and focuses on who and what is of importance. I wonder when the last time any of us treated Jesus with that level of clarity and commitment?
So going forward into the coming year what shall we say and do?
What is our determined purpose?