Coming to know our Savior Jesus Christ is the quest of a lifetime for any Christian. But why and how do I come to know Jesus?
Many places in the scriptures we are commanded to "come unto me", "be ye therefore perfect, even as I am", "What manner of men ought ye to be? Even as I am." The Lord also invites us to take His yoke upon us and "learn of me". He also taught us (paraphrasing) "This is life eternal, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent". If Jesus is the great Exemplar, then we must know him, understand him, so we can truly follow him. Our quest to be like him is truly a quest for life eternal (his life).
The "why" is therefore, that our exaltation is dependent on knowing the Savior, then emulating him in our lives.
Knowledge can come to us in many forms: studying God's word in the scriptures and from his prophets, revelation of knowledge to our mind through the Holy Spirit, and revelation and confirmation to our hearts of his attributes also through the Holy Spirit as we "experience" life. Certainly, we can and should gain knowledge of the Savior through study and prayer. However, I have reflected on the more impactful and meaningful way of coming to know Jesus: by experience.
Three areas come to mind, all of which are accompanied by the Spirit which leaves with us an unforgettable impression and deep abiding knowledge. The first is obedience to His laws and commandments. John teaches us that: "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine." Abundant blessings in many forms come to us as we demonstrate our faith through obedience. Through this process we feel the Saviors love and desire to bless us.
The second way we come to know Christ by experience is through an uninvited trial, test, or challenge. They can come in many forms, but if we allow them, they can teach us of His deep love and mercy that flows to us through the Atonement. In my own personal life I have come to understand that Jesus is patient, quick to forgive, full of love and mercy. I may have read similar words in scripture, but the words mean little compared to the experience of how the Savior has treated me in my trials. At the end of Matthew chapter 11 is described this process. When we are heavy laden and come unto Christ, we truly then will "learn of [him]" and learn that he is meek and lowly.
Finally, the third way is through His service. As we begin to study and learn of Jesus and develop faith in Him, we plant a seed of faith as we attempt to emulate His life of service. As we do, the seed grows and we reap the harvest of service in feeling His love (charity), then want to reflect that charity even more in our lives. The process feeds on itself.
The area of coming to know Christ through service is one that is completely in our control. If our motives are more out of love, then sense of duty, or even to be seen of men, then the harvest is much more plentiful. However, in my life I find that, though I may have righteous motives and desires, too many distractions keep me from His service. I fill my daily glass with worldly water, and leave little room for "living water". Though there are many "necessary" worldly pursuits (like a career), there are also many worldly demands that Satan puts before us that merely keep us busy so we have no time for Jesus.
The service we give can be in a multitude of forms - just learn what Jesus did, and follow Him.
In addition to worldly distractions, there is another barrier I have found that keeps me from a special type of service. The service is sharing the good news of the gospel to my fellow man. The barrier is fear. In my previous full-time missionary service, I truly came to know Christ better as he was on my "right hand and on my left" and as the Holy Ghost was my constant companion. Can we just leave those fears behind and reap the blessings of share the gospel of Jesus Christ to others? Blessing flow to both the messenger and the hearer.
Though I can learn of Christ through study and prayer, I can understand him better by exercising faith sufficient to make His service a priority in life. Then I can hope to know Him more, love Him more, and begin to become like Him. May we pray to the Father that we can be filled with His love that he bestows "upon all who are true followers of His Son, Christ...that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as He is pure." (Moroni 7:48)