Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The painful experience of knowing and following Christ

I was on Mars Hill Church’s blog where Pastor Mark Driscoll posted updates on their current sermon series, Trial: Eight Witnesses from 1 and 2 Peter series. In this post he was writing about suffering and its different facets in our lives. This resonated with me because we are currently going through a series on suffering, with the theme being, "The painful experience of knowing and following Christ."

In this series I am attempting to teach our local church the difference between…

1)suffering with and for Christ that comes as we choose to follow Christ and walk in His ways
2)the general, common suffering that all people, good and evil, experience and
3)suffering that we bring upon ourselves through our own sin, aka, reaping what you sow.

As we continue following Christ we will experience suffering in the form of persecution, sacrifice, loss and discipline from God. He will give us strength to endure this kind of suffering. As we continue to follow Christ, He will also give us the grace and strength to endure the common sufferings we, as humans, experience, and He will give us the wisdom and discernment to make right choices so that we can overcome the sinful nature that tempts us to do what we know is wrong, bringing suffering upon ourselves. As long as we continue in these earthly tents, we will experience suffering in all of its facets, at every level, and we will become more and more like Christ, in His suffering, in His death, in His victory, in His glory.

I am learning, as I continue to delve into the subject of suffering, that there is more to it than I have realized in my own walk w/Christ. Hopefully we can all learn together to endure the sufferings, trials and the pains of life.

This is a series within a series, as we started the new year looking at the “Greatest Experience in this Life(and beyond): The experience of knowing and following Christ. Using Phil. 3:10-11 as our series outline, we are looking at and considering five facets of the Christian experience.
Knowing and following Christ is, as Paul wrote, a

Personal Experience: “I want to know Christ…” Phil.3:10a
Powerful Experience: “…and the power of His resurrection…” Phil.3:10b
Painful Experience: “…and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering…” Phil.3:10c
Practical Experience: “…becoming like Him in His death.” Phil.3:10d
Purposeful Experience: “so that I may, in one way or another, attain to the resurrection from the dead. Phil.3:11

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been camping out in the “painful experience” of following Christ. We may be here for a while, wrestling with the painful truths of God’s word.