“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, and, so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10
We staked a four foot cross of old barn wood in our yard last Friday with a crown of thorns hung around its top. On Easter morning we draped royal purple material over the arms of the cross, with the words, “He is Risen behind it on a wall. I was surprised no one complained of its presence while up. The Home Owners’ Association has strict rules about no signage in the front yards; I think to restrict political signs, For Sale signs and the like. As I delicately handled the crown of thorns, long ones from Israel, I was vividly and painfully (my fingers were pricked more than once) reminded of our Savior’s vicious, excruciating pain and torture before and during His crucifixion. And then to be reminded by the Apostle Paul that to KNOW, truly know, Jesus Christ, intimately and experientially, and to FEEL the power of His resurrection you need to share in the fellowship of His sufferings.
In John’s vision which constitutes the Book of Revelation he wrote that he saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus, who were raised to life to reign with Christ for a thousand years. “Those who had been beheaded for Jesus is not only ancient history, it is present, immediately within reach of your eyes and ears given modern communication. Your brothers and sisters of all ages are being beheaded or executed right after being asked if they will renounce the One they adore more than life itself. Radical Islamists just attacked a university in Kenya asking the young students if they were Christians and then executing them on the spot as they affirmatively answered. It has happened here as well. Media and social media are spewing forth vile hatred for Christians and their Master, a putrid invective they will not dare to level against the most vicious perpetrators of murderous violence on the planet, radical Islam. Rather, based on propagandistic lies and slander they have singled out followers of Christ as the primary target of their hatred. The incoherence of this in the face of Islam’s treatment of their pet causes is so glaring it virtually exposes the power of the “hidden one who guides their thoughts and actions no matter how contradictory; Ephesians 6:12 in action.
Today, to mention Jesus in an environment of unbelievers or in any public place is to invite persecution and verbal ridicule. The fact is, it is truly impossible to escape tests of your faith and your testimony in being an earnest follower of the Lamb in a world which is under the “prince of this world, yours and His arch-enemy. The test may be just like Peter’s before the crucifixion, “Aren’t you a follower of Jesus? Yes or no? Or if someone in your presence uses His name as a curse, or says something erroneous about Him and the gospel, do you speak up? Or if Christian brothers or sisters are denigrated or spoken about with malice and lies do you come to their defense? It is possible to be “winsome and yet speak with truth and with love for the One who went to the cross for you. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a “Christ-like mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
To feel the power of the resurrection is not to wait for your rising from the grave at the last day; it is to know this power as you now choose a fellowship of suffering with and for Him. Through this fellowship whether it be suffering with cancer or other disease, how you deal with the pain of difficult circumstances in your life, in the grace and courage of testifying of your faith to neighbors, or how you are committed to doing business ethically when it costs you, the power of the resurrection is yours for the asking. Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes and for all reasons; it may be physical, mental, or emotional; it may be suffering in you or serving a suffering one whom you love; the question is, do you see this suffering as a fellowship with Jesus and make it so? Kara Tippitts, the 38 year old mother of four who recently died after battling cancer, had thousands of followers to her blog, as she testified to dying in the grace of Jesus and bearing witness to His resurrection power while in pain and grief. This is but one example of sharing in this sacred fellowship which feels, not just knows about, the power of the resurrection.
Do you know more ABOUT the power of His resurrection, believing in the fact He rose from the dead, or do you actually FEEL the power of His resurrection in experiencing this select fellowship characterized in the endurance of suffering? There is a difference; one is head knowledge which believes the resurrection genuinely happened; the other is living in humble endurance and grace for the joy set before you, suffering in one form or another in which you enlist His presence and offer Him to those who observe your crucible. In this the power of His resurrection is presented to others over and over. The empty tomb is made visible repeatedly!
“Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
(4th verse of Isaac Watts’ hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, 1707)
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