“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”
(I’ve dropped anchor in the third Chapter of Paul’s letter to the young Church he’d begun at Philippi. (3:10).There’s so much here, and I feel awed, humbled, and challenged to come to a much better understanding of what so captured the Evangelist’s attention. If you’ve come to a “ho-hum” attitude about the Resurrection, I hope you’ll take a fresh look during this season. It is central to the Christian faith. It is either the greatest event in human history, or the most hideous, cruel hoax ever to occupy the world’s attention. ~donkimrey)
In this chapter it seems to me that Paul is taking a personal inventory his life and establishing priorities. There’s a pretty long list of impressive contributions and achievements. It seems they would be grounds for boasting, or at least some self-satisfaction.
Instead, he says: “while someone may think these are merely, or very, important, I’m focusing all my energy on what is MOST important.” And, very tersely, wasting no words, he mentions these as his primary objective:
- Know Christ
- Know the Power of His Resurrection
- Know the Fellowship of His Suffering
- Become conformed to the image of Christ.
Consider the “power” of the Resurrection. The word “power” or its equivalent is used a lot in Scripture. When Paul was writing his letters, he was writing and speaking the Greek language. Before the KJV translated his letters to English, the word for “power” in that language is dunamis (of course, they used a different alphabet then, too.). That’s the word which evolved into the English word “dynamite.” Since Alfred Nobel invented that highly volatile explosive, we sort of assumed that kind of “power” was highly explosive and very destructive, killing or maiming anything in it’s path.
But, considered in another way, “power” can be for constructive purposes. There is “power,” for instance, in the quiet, unnoticed growth beneath the surface makes the flowers bursts fort in glory with the coming of spring.
Christianity is a very muscular faith. Very virile. While recognizing (in our humanity) we may be weak, we gain strength and power through admission of our weakness. For instance, one New Testament writer said: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He provides power. The ability to do what is required of us. The same word (dunamis, or power) is used when Jesus promised Hs followers “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”(Ref. ). In that instance, the blessing of power is bestowed specifically upon the Christ followers. And this kind of power isn’t given so we can strut before others or admire ourselves in the mirror and just “flex” ourpowerful mew spiritual muscle. Jesus made the purpose clear: It is the ability and authority to become faithful witnesses to the Gospel He introduced.
The same power which brought Jesus from the land of the dead is the same power which enables a “sinner” to become a “saint.”
Years ago there was a famous Baptist minister, Dr. R. G. Lee, who each year would preach a sermon by the title “Pay Day Someday.” It became an annual event and Dr. Lee delivered that same messages on numerous occasions at conventions, conferences, and other assemblies.. It was recorded and sold widely. From his pulpit in the Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, he achieved international recognition and preached that sermon 1300 times over the course of his ministry.
Needless to say, he had his imitators. On one occasion, he happened to be in a Church when one young wannabe Lee delivered his own version of “Payday Some day” only to learn that Dr. Lee himself was in the audience.
The young fella felt he had no choice but to continue, but afterwards he spoke with Dr. Lee, expressing his embarrassment and apologizing profusely.
Dr. Lee reassured the young minister, observing wryly that “most folks can tell the difference between a cannon and a cap pistol.”
While considering such great concepts (especially the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection of Christ) I feel so far beneath the subjects. I sense that I’m “on Holy Ground,” and don’t want to diminish your view of these tremendous events. I want badly not to become “as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”
I’ll save “That I may know Him, the fellowship of His suffering, & that I may be conformed to his image” for other days. Other studies perhaps.
But right now I’m concentrating on the “power of the resurrection.” When I wrote about the Incarnation I was amazed at how so much Divine energy and personality could be compressed into such a small space. Deity becoming an infant! Eternity being compressed into a mere moment of time. It is just too much to be taken with a grain of salt. Too much infinity for a finite mind to comprehend!
Honestly, there is no ranting of an idiot here. Certainly no drooling like a religious fanatic or a fool. These questions arise in my mind: First what IS the Power of His Resurrection?” and Second: How may I achieve it?
What is the POWER OF THE RESURRECTION? I believe it is the authority or the privilege to become children of God. It is the ability to face and overcome all life’s challenges, including the last and greatest challenge..Death. If Jesus really conquered the ultimate enemy, He can do anything. That’s the kind of righteousness and power that Jesus spoke about in His famous Sermon on the Mount. We should “Hunger and thirst for it.
“As the hart pants for water” is the word picture the Psalmist used to explain how we should seek God’s presence and His power. That sounds like devoted desperation. I must have it or I perish. As inadequate as my attempts are, perhaps you can take it even further. Take this seriously. Paul made it his top priority. Other things may be important. But this is most important. Ask for it. Keep on seeking and you shall find. It contains the possibility of continuous devotion. Devoted adoration. The ability to live sanely in the midst of insanity. To be kind, calm, confident, joyful, loving, peaceful, gentle, while exercising goodness, temperance, and self control. It is the kind of peace that you can claim in all circumstances.
In my life I’ve probably read, heard,written, and spoken millions of words. Hopefully, some were helpful. Honestly, though, I have to admit the use of worthless words at times. Some hurtful, irritating, or boring.
That question, “How may I know the Power of the Resurrection?” intrigues me. Sometimes the answer to such a question is so obvious we overlook it. The way you “know” anything is that you accept it as fact. Believe it is true. You spend time meditating. In this case, you’d spend time considering the words, deeds, and influence of the only One who ever exercised that power.
This idea has captured my thinking and continues to occupy it. That powerful phrase: “The Power of His Resurrection!” I could never compare myself to brilliant, imaginative scientists, philosophers, and can not imagine what prompted Albert Einstein to launch his quest which became the basis for his famous theory, E=MC2 which led to an atomic bomb and ushered in the nuclear age? When Ben Franklin went flying a kite in a thunderstorm, who ever suggested that he go chasing lightning and bottling it?
You already knew that without my telling you, but just so you know I have no grandiose ideas about my capabilities, I accept the fact that I have no special abilities to probe the depth of the Resurrection. Much less do I claim to be able to understand or explain its significance. I do, however, believe the importance of the resurrection by far exceeds the importance of these, or any, or all scientific discoveries of all time.
This is another example of God acting suddenly, unexpectedly, in mysterious, marvelous ways, His wonders to perform.
“Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: “a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb.’ Jesus entered our world through a door marked, No Entrance’ and left through a door marked No Exit.”–Peter Larson