“But whatever to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.”(Phil. 3:8)
Dearly beloved in Christ,
People boast about their wealth, position, job, ability, children, etc. etc. Do we have anything boast about? Do we boast about our possessions or positions, name or fame? Everything we claim to have and boast about is temporary. The Pharisees boasted about their lineage and traditions, circumcision and their righteousness by keeping the Law.
Apostle Paul, with all the zeal he had for his religion and his knowledge of the scripture, could boast more than any other Jew. He could also boast about his experience he had in the third heaven, where he was taken up to see and hear inexpressible things. (2 Cor. 12:2) But he chose not to boast about all these things. Rather, he considered everything else “rubbish” compared to “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.” Paul believed that “everything that is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” So he looked forward to eternal things.
Paul’s greatest desire was “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Phil. 3:10)
Paul wanted to know Christ so intimately by following His footsteps. He rejoiced in obeying the commands of his Master. Paul wanted to experience “the power of His resurrection”. He did not want to live a defeated life here on the earth, but a victorious life. This victorious life is the result of knowing Christ. This victorious life is not a life without suffering, but rejoicing in the sufferings. He also says, he wants to “share in Christ’s sufferings and in His death.” It may seem strange and foolish in the eyes of many people. But Paul knew what it meant to suffer for Christ. He considered it a great privilege to suffer for Christ, who suffered for his sake.
Every believer would like to experience the power of Christ’s resurrection. But unless we die to ourselves, we cannot experience the power of resurrection. Are we willing to share in Christ’s suffering and his death to experience this power? We have a wrong understanding that because Christ suffered and died for us, we do not have to suffer. Christ sufferings and death do not exempt us from our sufferings. It is true that Christ paid the penalty for our sins when He suffered and died and when we believed in Him, we escaped the penalty for sin, viz. (eternal) death. But, we will be saved from our sufferings only in our glorified bodies.
We see that while many boast about their positions and possessions, Paul boasted about his sufferings. Suffering was a part of his life and he rejoiced when he suffered for Christ and His gospel. He rejected the pleasures of the world and chose to suffer because he loved God. For Paul, this was one way of expressing his gratitude to Jesus.
Knowing Christ is a powerful experience, but it also is a painful experience. In 2 Cor.11, we see Paul boasting about his sufferings and not about his achievements.
The knowledge of Christ brings a total transformation in a person’s life. Paul, once a persecutor of the church received a total transformation when he met with Jesus on the way to Damascus. This transformation in his life was visible when he rejoiced in his suffering as an Apostle of Christ. Paul was never satisfied with this transformation; he still wanted to grow more in the knowledge of Christ.
Not only that Paul rejoiced in suffering for Christ, but also his desire was to become like Christ in his death. He wanted to share in Christ’s suffering and death so that he could experience His power. “Now if we are Children, then we are heirs, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Rom.8:17)
While writing to Timothy Paul reveals another secret; “If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure we will also reign with him.” (2 Tim.2:12)
Dear brethren, God’s desire is that everyone should come to the knowledge of Him. Jesus says ‘knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ, is eternal life.’ (John 17:3) Lord Jesus came to give us eternal life. We can have eternal life by knowing Him.
May God give us His grace to know him and walk in His ways!
Yours in Christ
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