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… (Philippians 3:10).
He chose it.
He chose to be weak, vulnerable, small.
He chose to lay aside majesty and take up mortality.
He chose to embrace death and destroy it from the inside out.
For you, Beloved
Do I have this strength? Do I have what it takes to willingly lay aside the meager trappings of my mediocrity and lower myself, that I may help others to rise?
So how do we do it, Beloved? How do we become like him in his death?
I guess…the same way we get up each morning, and take that next step, that next breath.
By his grace
For his glory
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings… (Philippians 3:10).
Frankly, I know very little about sharing in Christ’s sufferings. Up to this point, my walk with God has been relatively smooth, and my pain has been confined to the internal struggle-with-sin-and-try-to-live-for-God-while-living-in-a-broken-world variety. I have not suffered for my Lord; I have certainly not suffered like my Lord.
I’m not sure I can say that I want to.
Sorry…did that disappoint you?
I mean, I want to be a man of God, but the cost…is…sobering. If the day comes that I’m called upon to share in His sufferings, I hope I’m up to the task.
That’s not to say I don’t know a little bit about the fellowship of suffering. I have shared tears and pain and death and heartache and loss and I hate it. I hate death. I hate pain. I hate loss. I hate the powerless feeling that comes with sitting at the bedside of a dear friend and watching him struggle with the knowledge that his body doesn’t work right and might never work right again. I hate asking how he’s feeling after having his veins scorched with chemo and his cells fried with radiation.
And yet (Thank God, there’s an “And yet”)
And yet…I have never been closer to my friend than I have been these last weeks. I have never seen him stronger, or more vulnerable, or more real.
I have never seen him reflect Christ more clearly than he does right now.
What about you, Beloved? Have you known the fellowship of suffering? IF you haven’t, you will. I’m sorry for you.
Happy Wednesday, Beloved.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection… (Philippians 3:10).
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that the resurrection is the most powerful event in history.
More powerful than Creation?
I think so.
More powerful than Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run in the 1988 World Series?
Oh, yes…even that.
When he rose from the grave, Jesus, in one fell swoop, ended the captivity of…well…everyone. Death, the great enemy of all mankind, was crushed under the heel of the Son of God.
That there’s power, my friend.
Beloved, do you understand that, right here, right now, smack in the middle of a Tuesday, you have that same power at work in you?
The power that broke Death in the world is breaking it in your heart.
Don’t ask me how. I have almost as much trouble with how as I do with why.
But I’m pretty good with is.
And it is, Beloved.
I want to know Christ… (Philippians 3:10).
Because he’s a person, you know.
Not an idea
a set of writings to study and memorize.
He’s a person, like you and me.
OK…not like you and me…but he is a person.
The perfect model of all personage.
And like any person, he wants to know and be known.
To love and be loved.
He wants relationship.
I know, right? But make no mistake, he does.
Because you are his Beloved.
…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith (Philippians 3:9).
Because my righteousness…isn’t.
Oh, it might look like kinda like righteousness–occasionally, a little, if you squint–but I’m not really fooling anyone.
Neither are you, Beloved.
But the righteousness that comes by faith, the one that the Father sacrificed his son to obtain for you, the one that Christ bled and died and suffered the horrors of the cross to share with you, the one the Holy Spirit lives and works in and through you to teach you to wear–
that one’s the real deal.
And it is now yours.
So wear it proudly, and in great humility.
Wield it with great strength and brokenness.
Rejoice over it with great joy and weeping.
Accept it as the free gift that cost everything.
Happy Friday, Beloved.
…that I may gain Christ and be found in him… (Philippians 3:8-9).
To be found in him…
I’m not entirely sure what that means.
In Colossians, Paul says that our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. Here he says that we may be found in Christ. How does that work? Is Paul simply being poetic, when he really means that we will be with him?
Maybe…but I doubt it.
We often say that Christ is in us, that we have “asked Jesus into our hearts.” And yet we are also in him. Frankly, that’s more than this little brain of mine can manage. Perhaps you can explain it to me, Beloved.
I think I will spend the rest of my life wondering what that line means.
And the rest of eternity finding out.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ… (Philippians 3:7-8).
Such beautiful words.
I can read them, recite them–hey, put them to music and I will gladly sing them.
But…can I mean them? Because reputation, power, the praise of men–it’s pretty heady stuff. Can I mean those words, down to the core of my being?
Can you, Beloved?
Something tells me that, in the day that we speak those words without a breath of hesitation, we will find some serious peace.
I’ll pray for you, Beloved. You pray for me.
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic zeal, faultless (Philippians 3:4-6).
What’s your resume look like?
Your spiritual resume, I mean. Were you born to the right parents? Did you study at the right schools? Go on the right mission/vacation trips? Lift your hands at the right concerts? Do you attend the right church, where you serve in the right departments and dress the right way and talk to the right people about the right subjects? Do you give the right amount of money to the right places and vote for the right people and march in the right causes?
Do you write a blog that features daily devotions?
Look, I’m not saying those things aren’t good, even godly, even glorifying to the Lord. I am saying that we’d better not count on them. The moment we start looking at our deeds as anything other than the natural overflow of Christ in our lives, the moment we actually start to think that we did something all by ourselves that was awesome and impressive and godly…
You know the line about filthy rags, right?
So check your resume this morning, Beloved. Because, in reality, there’s only one item that should be on it.
And you know what that is.
Happy Tuesday, Beloved.
Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh… (Philippians 3:7-8).
Paul is not happy.
He’s not afraid to let you know.
I like that.
In this passage, Paul is ticked off at a group of teachers who are telling new believers that they must follow the traditions of Judaism, particularly circumcision. For some it’s a power thing–having control of the rituals gives these false teachers authority over new converts. For others, it may simply be a faulty understanding of grace. In either case, the message they’re teaching is that Christ Jesus is not enough.
You need Jesus + rituals.
You need Jesus + accomplishments.
You need Jesus + stuff.
Frankly, if it’s “Jesus +…” it’s not really Jesus at all.
You can see why this pushes Paul’s buttons.
And what of you, Beloved? Are you stuck in “Jesus +” mode? Are you trying to check items off an endless spiritual list, hoping to achieve what you’ve already been given?
Don’t answer that too quickly.
In fact, maybe you should let God answer that one for you.
I’ll leave you two alone to talk it over.
For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great (Psalm 25:11).
For the sake of your name.
Because my name, frankly, is not worth saving.
But my name is so loud in my own ears
it drowns out your voice
Perhaps the only way I can serve you is to stand as the object of your mercy.
That will be enough