The Language of Suffering: Paul’s Suffering (5)

Philippians 3:7-11

3 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. 10Iwant 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.

Here we have a window into the Apostle’s spirit.  Through it we see a life so completely identified with his Master that everything else, that which came before, that which comes beside, anything else, is mere rubbish in comparison.

To us, caught up in our many competing cares this single-minded focus appears almost pathological.  Paul would indeed have made a poor husband, father, middle manager or soccer coach.  But these were not his calling.  His calling was to spread Christ’s Gospel throughout the Roman Empire, overcoming every obstacle set in his path, great personal suffering included.  Only a total commitment to Christ that included sharing fellowship in every dimension of His Life could prevail.

We would do Paul a great injustice were we to pity him.  For though he almost surely suffered more than most humans ever will, he even more surely knew more joy, love, hope and peace than almost any human who has ever lived. He had these riches because of the victory of Christ in him.  Would that I could surrender so completely to such a worthy King.

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