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.
“I want to know Christ.” We can all resonate with Paul on this one. There is a deep hunger to move into ever-expanding knowledge of and intimacy with Christ. We feel our souls begin to surge with an emphatic amen of agreement. And then he takes it even further: “and the power of his resurrection.” Now I’m really with you, Paul. I want that. I long to move and operate and love and lead out of that kind of power. The dynamic reality of Jesus’ resurrection at work in me, pushing back the signs of death all around me, the light of the empty tomb swallowing up the darkness? That’s what I signed up for. I want to know more and more of that. You’re on a roll, Paul. What’s your next prayer?
“. . . and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Oh. Okay. Is there another option? Perhaps an alternative route that could navigate us around that unfortunate path? No. Never.
The way of Jesus leads to and through the cross. He promised us that up front. Before the cross carried any religious significance as a symbol or metaphor, when it only meant death, he plainly told us that to answer the call to follow him was to embrace his cross. If you want to know him and the power of his resurrection, then you must share in the fellowship of his sufferings and even his death. Once again, we learn that the counterintuitive way of the kingdom is descent. The direction of deeper is down.
Jesus, I do want to know you. In every way. Not only your resurrection, but your suffering and death as well. Teach me what it means to share in all of you.
What scares you most about following Jesus? What are you afraid this will cost?
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