Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Knowing Christ can be a Pain

Whenever we suffer, it's real easy to get tunnel vision where feeling better physically (or otherwise) can become our all-consuming agenda. Scripture tells us that there is a better way.

The apostle Paul had a "Ph D" in suffering. And He knew Christ intimately beginning with his up-close and personal encounter on the Road to Damascus.

So it should be of no surprise that he has some instructive words for us to live by as we consider the relationship between knowing Christ intimately and suffering. Paul writes in Philippians 3:7-15a (emphasis mine):

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, 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 on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. 

In a generation and culture that believes there's never a good reason to suffer, Paul says that while suffering is not pleasant, it can be life-changing. It can lead to knowing God better than ever.

Because it is so hard, we must pray for and encourage one another regularly as we all suffer to varying degrees in life. And we must view our suffering through God's eyes as well. Yes, knowing Christ can be a real pain. That's why we must learn to suffer well...together.