That I May Know Him

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:10)

Here’s a Bible challenge: Find a single verse that tells more about a believer’s relationship to Jesus Christ than does Philippians 3:10. In twenty-three words the Apostle Paul challenged us to take a hard look at the person of Christ, his resurrection power — and our peculiar fellowship with his sufferings and his death. Why do you suppose Paul did this? I’ve found that everything Jesus did on earth is covered by these four categories.

As such, when we consider Jesus’ person, his resurrection, his sufferings and his death — we should determine to live our lives within these bounds. We have other options, of course — like living for the flesh and living for the world. So the challenge for believers is to identify that which belongs to Christ… and that which does not… then pursue the former and ditch the latter.

We can also gauge the depth of our engagement because these four aspects show the level of our Christian maturity. It is no mistake that the person of Christ is at the beginning and the death of Christ is at the end. We teach young children the sweet things of Jesus — like how he engaged with people — how he loved them, healed them and fed them. These are related to his person. Now, these children should also learn that Jesus suffered and died for us; that is central to the gospel message. But the deeper things of his sufferings and his death would be an untoward burden for little children… but not for us. These are the main course for mature believers.

As such, we can measure our Christian walk by asking, with what do I identify and how much? Am I afraid to engage sufferings and death for Christ? Have I stalled at the happy places of his person and his resurrection? Such self-imposed limits would indicate less than full maturity. Look at Paul’s statement. He desired not only the person and the resurrection of Christ… but also to partake in the fellowship of his sufferings… and even to conform unto his death!

Jesus called himself the Son of Man. In so doing he connected with Daniel’s prophecy and claimed to be the Messiah. But the Son of Man was also a man… a human being… and he offered the fellowship of his person to all people in all times. Even we who have never seen him in the flesh feel drawn to his person. Why? Identification. Jesus was the Son of God… yet he became one of us. His blood is our blood. We can relate because we are related.

Who can fathom the sufferings and death of God himself? The Bible gives us some “reasons” why God did this — and these must suffice. But part of the burden of fellowship and conforming is the desire to know him more. Jesus walked the way of the cross to accomplish our salvation… but he calls us to walk with him to facilitate our growth. We need to partake of his sufferings and his death — and the degree to which we do this is the measure of Christian maturity.

There are too many long-term converts who are still consuming the milk of the word when they should be consuming its meat. God’s kingdom needs adults — persons who can carry their God-given burdens and lay down their lives in his name. The people who do this are certainly called believers… but the Bible has a more precise name for them. They are called disciples.

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