The Fellowship of Suffering

“Philippians 3:7-14”: (New International Version)

7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What 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 9and 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 and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Pressing on Toward the Goal
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, 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, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

This is probably my favorite passage in the Bible, as it has long been my life’s creed. It was drilled home again yesterday by my pastor who reflected on the fact that the only way to truly share in the sufferings of Christ, and so to know Him better and become more like Him, is by suffering unjustly. For what had He ever done to deserve such suffering? He was sinless, having done no wrong thing ever in His life. If anyone was deserving of a perfectly peaceful and content life, it was certainly Jesus the Messiah, and yet He suffered so much more than any human being before or since has ever suffered.

We grumble and complain about the injustice of our personal suffering, of the inconveniences of being wrongly accused of some misdeed, of bearing the brunt of someone else’s scorn and persecution. Yet, Christ suffered far greater, giving His body as a sacrifice for all men to be beaten and broken, having done nothing to deserve such.

And when are the greatest life lessons learned? Often, they are learned only after having gone through a most painful time, when you cannot see what possible good can come from the situation, and yet they often prove to be the most beneficial, the most enlightening, the most growing times, and the most sweet times of fellowship with God. A new and rich perspective, for I have often thought to be like Christ in those times which I suffer, but this was a new perspective for me, having not really associated Christ’s sufferings with the unjustness of it, taking for granted the fact that He was sinless and therefore undeserving of such pain.

We can learn much from the unjust sufferings of Christ, and I hope that I can continue to pray, as Paul did, that I will know Christ and the power of His resurrection by sharing in His sufferings.

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