Sunday, September 12, 2010

I get wanting to know Christ, power and fellowship. But suffering???

Consider this verse:

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Philippians 3:10 (New International Version)

Am I reading that correctly?

Did Paul really say he wanted to share in Christ's suffering?

He must know something I don't, because I don't like suffering of my own. And Christ suffered way more than I could imagine.

God help me understand this.


Brian said...

I think Andy, you will find that in many of the major religions out there, suffering is pretty universal. The Dali Lama has said that at our base, all humans, want the same thing, the alleviation of our suffering. During the Dark Ages, Flagellates whipped themselves to cleanse themselves of their sins. Some Hindus will crawl on their bellies for months and hundreds of miles in pilgrimage. I have even been known to tell my kids and the kids I coach in sports that pain is simply weakness leaving the body. I don't think that Paul's statement here is all that different from a common human mindset. Pain, it is a right of passage, a badge of honour, and a mark on our soul that some believe makes us more holy.

Maybe Paul was striving to better understand the path of his mentor. Maybe he wanted to be his mentor. Truly we can never know what was in Paul's mind as he wrote this, but there is a common human experience that Paul has linked to here.

I hope this helps.

Sam Tyler is my Hero said...

Hey Andy,

When one loves another as much as Paul loved Christ (which is rare), they want to emulate and commiserate with them not only in their times of joy, but also in their times of suffering. This is true compassion and true fellowship through the bonds of unconditional love. Therefore Paul fully understood Jesus' purpose for his humanity and wanted to also share in that fully in celebration and sorrow. To celebrate Christ is to suffer in his sacrifices.

Paul also says that he wants to become like him in his death, so let's look at what he is talking about. When Christ was born he was filled with all the awareness that a limited human existence provides, and yet still understood and knew that the will of his father was his purpose. He was obedient to that purpose beyond his humanity. Because Christ was human and God he had free will to do as he pleased, as he liked. yet, he honored the purpose to fulfill prophecy in the face of adversity, to sacrifice a long life to be the bearer of punishable offences, and to lead creation to a new age of awareness, healing, and spirituality all at the tender human age and frailty of 33. Remember when you were 33 and how tender you were? Christ had to battle those human feelings and in his Holy Essence/existence AND humanity turn away from temptation and face his full purpose and be at peace with that. When he asked to have this fate taken away from him at Gethsemane, he cried until he bled, yet when his time came, he faced the greatest human fear with Godly courage, grace, poise, and poetic beauty all for "his friends".

So when Paul says that he wants to share in his sufferings, he is doing what a dear friend would do for the person he loved the most, and for a God that made it possible. His willingness to partake in the final days of his loving best friend and saving grace, emulates the beauty, and perfection of a death that could only lead to a miraculous victory based on Grace alone.

Now, who WOULDN'T want to suffer if it meant that kind of connection with God?

Rev. Angie Collins

Andy Brasfield said...

Thank you both for commenting.

I like the idea that suffering will bring me closer to God. I pray that I will be protected from suffering because I have experienced emotional pain in the past. Even though it strengthened my faith in Christ, I don't want to go through it again.

But I also want to know Christ more.

God bless,

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