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June 20, 2008

The fellowship of sharing in our sufferings

by Dave Malnes

With Christ’s righteousness and his love dwelling in our hearts, there will be a desire to grow in our knowledge of Him. We will thirst for truth as plants thirst for moisture in the morning dawn. A deep passion awakens within us to grow in Christ and experience his resurrection power available to us through the Holy Spirit. It is this same power that enables us to have the necessary strength to stand firm and live a holy life pleasing to God.

Like all great wisdom, we have an ingrained desire to share this wisdom with others. For the Apostle Paul, his knowledge of Christ not only prompts him to share this with others, but inspires him to know Christ even more.

“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, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”  (Philippians 3:10-11)

While in prison, Paul and Silas rejoiced at the opportunity to suffer for Christ. For a wimp like myself, I ask, “How can that be possible?” I hate pain. I try to avoid pain at all costs. To be honest, I don’t think I am strong enough to endure much suffering, even for my faith.

suffering

The Lord tells us in Scripture that suffering will come as a result of our faith. Will we be tortured or imprisoned as a result of our faith? I highly doubt it — at least not yet. But there is a mystery behind suffering. We learn that in the midst of turmoil and trial, we truly come to know Christ.

Suffering is the means God uses for us to deepen our relationship in him. Suffering produces a kinship as well. For instance, the experience and knowledge gained by going through a particular and painful trial, allows you a platform to be heard by those who are experiencing a similar trial. A certain fellowship occurs.

Suffering in this life and enduring the trials of living in a sinful world is what caused the hammer to pound the nails to the cross. It is sin that crucifies our flesh and causes death — the same death Jesus experienced. Jesus knows all about suffering, even our suffering, and we join in that knowledge and fellowship that suffering can bring. We are asked to daily crucify our own flesh, especially our lust and selfish desires, so we may truly grow in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul says that as a result of knowing Christ, we attain to the resurrection of the dead. The Greek word for “attain” literally means “to come to or arrive at a location.” To be used figuratively, it can be used to arrive at a position. A good example is when a person pays a government official a bribe, thereby allowing him to arrive or come to a position of authority. So, as a result of knowing Christ and having him dwell in us, we not only are enabled to receive his power and overcome suffering, but we will arrive at our destination and attain our glorified bodies in heaven. For this reason, we can truly “rejoice” for someday we will be with Christ forever.

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