Philippians 3:10-11 – “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” NKJV
There are two great truths presented in this passage and I focus on the second. However, we cannot have the second without first knowing Him. Many Christians want the Power of God in their lives but few actually pray for the fellowship of His sufferings or to be conformed to His death. I know there are immediate protests when I say that, but do we really seek to enter the fellowship of His sufferings or the conformity to His death? I have visited and spoken in many churches that are crying out for the Power of God but almost none that are praying to enter into that relationship that is the foundation for that power.
Fellowship in the Greek is the word ‘koinonia’ and means partnership, participation and literally becoming one with. Many churches call themselves ‘The Fellowship’ and are anything but a fellowship in the sense of sharing, partnership, participation and becoming one with the other members of that body. If we are The Body of Christ then each member is connected to the other members in some way but if we are to become an effective local body we must develop ‘koinonia’ rather than being a group of people who identify with a particular brand, gather for a time of celebration and then go our separate ways. There must become a joining and sharing if we are to present Christ to our communities with the effectiveness God desires.
But ‘koinonia’ of His sufferings, do we really seek that? Do we even understand that? I would never suggest not does the Bible that we are to engage in some type of self-flagellation spiritually or physically. Suffering comes but it should always come as a result of righteousness, not some misguided view that the more we can cause self to suffer the more spiritual we are. Our objective should be Christ and as a result, we will be hated by the world for the world hates and hated Him. If we seek to know Him to the level and degree that we can identify with and through righteousness participate in His sufferings we will see the Power of God come dynamically.
Yes, Jesus did suffer physically on the Cross but since the Bible declares in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus was tempted in all points as we but without sin, we know that He died to the world and that I believe is the heart of this prayer of Paul. When we receive Christ as our Savior the Bible identifies that as the New Birth and clearly indicates that we become New Creations. We have a New Self and in a real sense, our Spiritual DNA changes. In that experience, OLD THINGS pass away and NEWNESS OF LIFE comes into our person. If we do not allow the Holy Spirit to identify the baggage we are bringing over from the old we will not ‘die to self’ or ‘die to the flesh’ and will find it raising its ugly head time and again. If we are to be conformed to His death we must allow God to do the spiritual work that is involved in bringing us into koinonia with His sufferings and His death to sin.
Every time I have ever talked to God about Power He always talks to me about Purity. Preparation ALWAYS precedes blessing for if God were to give us His Power while our hearts were less than pure it would destroy us and do great damage in the Body of Christ. We have seen people receive Power but fail to keep their hearts Pure and watched the destruction that followed. It is no wonder that Paul spoke of a thorn in the flesh and the Bible continually instructs us to Guard our Hearts. The disciples came back to Jesus raving about the Power that had been demonstrated in their ministries and He said, “Do not rejoice in this but that your names are in the Book of Life.” The Heart is by far the most important part of your Christian walk, work or warfare.
Yes, we want the Power but let us also desire the Purity that comes with learning the fellowship of His sufferings and allow the Holy Spirit to bring us into conformity with His death.
God bless you as you go through this day!