Knowing Jesus through His sufferings

11 12 2019

Shot with Canon 7D.

 

Paul’s Desire

In his desire to know Jesus intimately, Paul describes the extent to which he is eager to go in this quest. He doesn’t want to know things just about Jesus but how Jesus Himself thinks and acts. He said that he wanted to know Him, AND the power of His resurrection, AND the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death..(Phil.3:10, upper case mine). He wanted to experience all that Jesus experiences, His thoughts, feelings, struggles, and victories.

Our Union with Christ

If Christ is our life, as Paul also proclaimed (Col.3:4), then we already have this opportunity to know Him this way. If we live as Him, there cannot be two separate life experiences. We must be the same. All that I feel is the same as He feels. Jesus said it this way Himself, He that hears you hears me; and he that despises you despises me; and he that despises me despises him that sent me. (Luke 10:16). That is the mystery of our union life. We share His power of bringing life out of impossible situations as well as His suffering in carrying everything through to its intended glory or goodness.

Suffering is not in our plans

But most of us do not want to experience pain and suffering. We think we should be excused from it. After all, isn’t this the reason we began trusting in Jesus, our Savior, and our burden bearer? We prefer He does it for us, and then we get to share in the blessing. “Thanks for doing that for me Jesus” is our attitude. But we are not standing by watching Him carry the burdens for us, but engaged with Him in carrying the pain all the way to victory, from death to life, from evil to goodness. There is no other way to rightfully share in the blessings unless we also share in His sufferings.

I Must Accept the Union

To know Jesus fully means to acknowledge the fact of our shared life. I cannot hold onto the perspective that I am living separate from Him. Living as Jesus assumes I must be willing to accept suffering, because obviously, that is what He is accepting. Being summorphosed (translated in our English Bibles as conformed) to His death (Phil. 3:10) is the word Paul invented, which he also used in Rom. 8:29. It means Wwe (sic) are joined together, sharing the same form. When Jesus died we died. When He arose, we arose (Rom.6:8). Now, we should no longer hold onto the things that once identified us – a false self for self, our own “self story”, etc. Unless we refuse to believe it, we no longer need to hold onto self-preservation, but be willing to “lose our lives”, or to count all things loss..(Phil. 3:8).

A New Meaning to Suffering.

When we no longer hold onto our old self for self, suffering takes on a new meaning. We are not in a battle for a comfortable life, so suffering is the opportunity to show we are truly alive. (1 Cor. 15:31). Each day is an opportunity to show that through Christ’s death we are made alive. (Rom. 6:8). We cannot live with Christ if we have not died with Him. Most want to live with Jesus but are not willing to die with Him.

Why is there still Pain and Suffering?

Why is there still pain and suffering in the world? Isn’t that just the enemy’s oppression? Pain and suffering are the lingering results of a world still living under the curse. It is the effect of the last enemy called death. Death has been defeated by Christ but the world – and we – do not know it. We are in the final battle of putting death away to the place it belongs. Every time we face pain and suffering with Jesus, it is our opportunity to KNOW the victory of life over death, the swallowing up of death with life. Father wants us to KNOW our life in Him, He wants us to KNOW Jesus as the victor over death. We cannot know something unless we know its opposite. All pain and suffering is the opportunity to take away its sting and eventually see it destroyed. We can then KNOW the victory of aionia zoe or life of the ages (commonly translated as eternal life).

We feel what He feels

In this life with Christ we cannot feel pain and suffering alone without Him feeling it as well. You could say that He is letting us feel it with Him. The “fellowship of His sufferings” are opportunities for the world to see how Jesus is alive in us, carrying us through the tribulations and bringing them to goodness. Jesus still suffers because He is living in us, as us. He cannot be living in a “far away heaven” and immune to pain and also be present in our lives. He is living NOW as us. All things are through Him, His engagements with the world. This is how we truly get to know Him.

 

Dennis D 12/9/19

 

 

 


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