walk in the word
7But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—10that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. —Philippians 3:7-11
Fellowship hurts sometimes. And that’s why, in Philippians 3:10, Paul said this, speaking of Jesus: “That I may know Him (Jesus)—and the power of His resurrection, and may share (this is the word here is the Greek koinonia translated, in many Bibles, fellowship) His sufferings.” What is the fellowship of Jesus’ suffering? Do you know what it is? Some people think, “Well, when I think about how much Jesus suffered for my sins, I’m thankful.” Incorrect. The fellowship of His sufferings is the relational connection that is born out of your mutual experience. Now many people suffer. People suffer financial loss, health problems, and family breakup. That is not the fellowship of His suffering.
Here’s the gospel—Jesus Christ paid the debt for your sin. He took upon Himself the punishment for your sin. Question: Did He deserve that humiliating and painful death? (No!) Could He have avoided it? (Yes!) But did He take it? (Yes!) I experience the fellowship of His suffering when I accept a pain that I do not deserve.
Let me tell you, when I became a pastor twenty-three years ago I didn’t know anything about the fellowship of His suffering. But in leading a church, you frequently experience the injury of taking something for Christ’s sake.
Now, I’ve done plenty things where I deserved what I got. But in addition to my own failings, there is the pain of misunderstanding and betrayal and rejection; the things that Christ experienced. And when you embrace that and don’t speak out in your own defense and don’t go to war over things that you can handle with His grace; when you absorb it for the sake of others, you’re learning the fellowship of His suffering. Listen parents, employers, Small Group members and Christians—when you absorb injury for the sake of others, you know Jesus in a new and deeper way. You know Him in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering. He took what He did not deserve. In order to become more like Him we will have to learn the fellowship of His suffering.
Prayer: Almighty Father, remind me that the command to forgive one another assumes that there will be things which must be forgiven—like hurts. If I’m growing into Your likeness, Lord, I will be developing a capacity for accepting the hurts that come with that growth. I desperately need Your help in growing that way, Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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