Death and Life

Four gospels. One Jesus. Four
narratives. One story told from four different
perspectives. Four viewpoints. One culminating
event that changed the world.
Paul reminded the church in Philippi that
they had received the gift of belief for the sake of
Jesus. More than that, he urged them to realize
that they also were recipients of the gift of
suffering because of Jesus [It is fascinating that
Paul uses gift language (“it has been granted to
you”) to describe our twin inheritance of belief
and suffering (Phil. 1:29)]. Paul understands that
belief is important, but also that simple belief
alone is inadequate (cf. the demons in James
2:19). For Christians of all generations, the
privilege we enjoy through the gift of Christ does
not have as its apex our profession of belief.
Rather, belief is confirmed through our joint
participation with Christ—and with each other—
as we faithfully walk through the experiences we
face in this life as his people. As Christ’s
children, ones who have received the gift of
salvation through our faith, we welcome with
equal joy both adversity and abundance,
knowing the One for whose sake we live.
From Paul’s perspective, to suffer for
Christ is the ultimate earthly experience. Casting
everything else aside, Paul desired greatly to
share in the suffering of Jesus for the purpose of
being more like him. This is our call, too. In
learning more of him, we imitate and love Jesus
more. In loving Jesus more, we long to face
what he faced because we know that his
“fellowship of suffering” will lead us closer to
being like him. This has been granted to us for
the sake of Christ.
Remember Jesus’s call, “Follow me.”

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