Have you ever read the bible and been struck by the fervor from which the men of old wrote? It has often occurred to me that there is a greater passion, a greater zeal, and greater power in the lives of these men than is currently being experienced in my own life as it pertains to my relationship with God. The passion for God can be felt when we read verses 5 and 6 of the 130th Psalm, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” After the Apostle Paul made a list of his impressive earthly accomplishments he went on to say in Philippians 3:8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” At first glance you might chalk it all up to spiritual fervor much like the mountain top experiences we have after a particularly inspiring time at Sunday morning worship. But then we read passages where people say things like, blessed is the man who, “Delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” This is far more than some passing feeling. This is not some obligatory morning Bible reading. This is someone who has delighted himself in the Lord and in return God is showing them more and more of Himself. How I want this kind of vibrant, living, exciting, and precious relationship with God!
The Apostle Paul boldly stated, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” Here Paul spoke of something that was worth losing everything for. Here Paul spoke of something so amazing, so profound, so valuable that the worth of everything else is but rubbish in comparison. And what was this great prize for which Paul sacrificed? It was the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, gaining Christ, and being found in Him!
Surely this knowing Christ and being found in Him is more than a feeling. Surely it is more than just a daily devotion before heading off to work. There is a hint in these words of a strong bond, a relationship. Paul knew Christ in same way one can know his loving father. It is more than just a knowing about him. It is an experiential knowing. Paul went on to say that his aim is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection that by all means possible he may attain the resurrection from the dead. I believe Paul is here speaking both literally and metaphorically. On one hand Paul is longing for a literal resurrection from the dead unto eternal life in the presence of his Savior, on the other hand I believe he speaks of a spiritual resurrection in this life.
The question remains as to how this knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection is to be obtained and or fostered. I think there is a strong hint within the words of Paul. In Philippians 3:10-11 Paul wrote, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Perhaps part of the cultivating this knowing of Christ, and the power of His resurrection has much to do with sharing in His suffering and becoming like Him in His death.
The author of Hebrews wrote, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood,” (Heb. 12:3-4). I confess at times I grow weary. The struggle against the sins of this world is real yet should not be surprising.
I picture a man holding a rope. At the end of the rope is sin. Sin is pulling the man with all of its might toward the sin. As the man resists he begins to sweat. He wraps the rope tighter around his hands and pulls against the force with all of his mite. Others grow weary and give in long before this point but the man holds on. The pressure from the sin is so great that the rope begins to cut into the man’s hands and they begin to bleed. How often do we give in long before the point of shedding blood?
I believe that part of cultivating a knowing of Christ and the power of His resurrection is directly related to sharing in His suffering, and becoming like Him in His death. This in part means that we suffer in the face of temptation. We are promised in Scripture that if we resist the devil he must flee. This is all well and good but first there must be some resisting. To resist is to stand against pressure.
In Ephesians chapter 6 the Apostle Paul spoke of the full armor of God. This armor is to protect us as we, “Wrestle,” in a spiritual sense. In a matter of just a few verses we are told that we must stand or withstand four times. This, I believe, is in part what it means to share in Christ’s suffering. It is to stand against, and withstand temptation.
The good news is that as we continue to cultivate this knowing of Christ and experience the power of His resurrection in our lives we behold His glory more and more. It is the glory of God that our souls long for. It is the glory of God that we truly hunger and thirst for. As God reveals His glory to us more and more we taste of it and suddenly hunger for more. We drink of it and suddenly thirst for even more of Him. The old hymn explains it this way, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” The good news is that as we share in His suffering, in part by resisting temptation, we see His glory all the more. As we see His glory all the more sin becomes less, and less pleasurable in light of His matchless glory.
May we burn with a passion for God as we cultivate a knowing of Him and the power of His resurrection!
A prayer by A. W. Tozer:
O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully
conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I
long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know
Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come
away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’
Longing for Longing
By Brian H. Fontaine
Cold and dark, the ways of man
Show us how to die that we might rise again
Root from our hearts, that which is sin
That Tho in all Thy glory may enter in
We long for longing, Thirst for thirsting
To know the everlasting God beyond the knowing