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Participating In His Sufferings

Frank Friedmann

Paul said his ‘one thing’ was to know Christ … the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10-14).
I don’t know about you, but I really, really love the first two things Paul mentioned.

When we know and experience Christ, we discover and experience the riches of His grace. Wow!
And when we know and experience the power of His resurrection, we have His strength to rise up and stand in this world … no matter what it throws against us. Double wow!
But I must be honest. I really don’t like the last thing Paul mentioned …participating in the sufferings of Jesus! Woe!
No one enjoys suffering. Yet in Philippians, Paul wrote that he welcomed suffering into his life.
No, Paul certainly wasn’t a masochist. He just earnestly sought the richest experience of our Lord Jesus Christ he could have. And if suffering enhanced that experience, then it was a small price to pay for what His Savior would work in his life.
Why did he have this attitude?
Suffering, Paul explained, conforms us to the death of Christ (verse 10). But … what does this mean? Through the cross, Paul had died to the world and the world had died to him (Galatians 6:14).
It’s the same with us.
Our death in Christ changed our relationship to everything – to other people, to our jobs and bank accounts, to our past, present and future, and even to our own selves. In Him, we die to everything we might use to find life or significance apart from Him. Because we’re in Christ, we also die to everything that seeks to condemn us, shame us, or punish us for what we’ve done … or failed to do.
Not one person or thing has that power over us any longer.
As we share in His suffering, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes. And we begin to see what’s really happening – the glory of Christ’s life being expressed in us.

We are now alive from the dead, but alive in a brand-new way.

We now can relate to this world differently.

We don’t have to seek life, significance, and acceptance from people and things the way we did before. And we don’t have to receive the guilt and shame they so freely offer us.

We are new creations (Galatians 6:15), no longer citizens of this world but ambassadors from the Kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 5:20). And as ambassadors, we offer to others the same gift we received… participation by faith in the finished work of Christ. We persuade them to be conformed to the death of Christ and to participate in His resurrection life.

Because they too can be free from the world … and free to live in intimate relationship with God, to bask in His life and love.
Wow, indeed!

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