“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10).
Many years ago, one of the television networks produced a show called, “The Immortal.” A man by the name of Ben Richards, discovered that he had a rare blood condition that slowed down the natural aging process. He never seemed to age, couldn’t recall ever getting sick, and didn’t grow physically weak. As the word got out, others sought him for blood transfusions in order to prolong their life. One such man, an evil rich man, actually sought to personally imprison him so that he could receive regular life-prolonging transfusions. Even this Hollywood fantasy can get us to think.
How can we live forever? Of course, we receive eternal life only through Christ alone (1 John 5:10-13). But the Bible defines eternal life as knowing God:
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
Eternal life does include endless existence, but those who reject Christ will experience that. Eternal life in Christ brings us to an endless fellowship with Him that knows no end, or loss in quality. Eternal death brings endless pain, anguish and hopelessness to the lost. Key point: Let’s get to know Him now.
For Paul, if suffering meant he would somehow get to know Christ better, then he desired that. In the first verse above, he calls it a share in His sufferings. Jesus reminded the disciples if they persecuted Him, they will persecute them:
“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (John 15:20).
When we experience difficulties, we actually get to know Christ better as we enter into His sufferings. Of course, the Bible makes it clear that our sufferings help to make us more like Christ (see Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4). God uses these things to “chasten”, or discipline, us so that we will learn to follow him closer (Hebrews 12:5-8).
But we also experience resurrection power in Christ. When we became children of God, He provided us with a down payment, the gift of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:14). This down payment awaits the full installment, the resurrection body promised to all believers. When we experience the presence of God, we get to know something of what life will be like in our resurrected state, but to a lesser degree. Still, we presently enjoy a power that was unknown to us before.
As we anticipate our future resurrected life, we should presently seek to know God better. We do this by viewing our sufferings as a means to draw close to Him. We also get to know Him better by enjoying the supernatural power that resides in us (Ephesians 1:19-23).
Some people only seek prosperity, but fail to appreciate the growth we experience during difficult seasons. The cross represents the supreme sacrifice, and the resurrection represents God’s very own power at work. Our sufferings point us to better things ahead. They cause us to rely on the one who died and rose on our behalf.
Posted on Thu, March 31, 2016
by Sam Petitfils