Tuesday, May 15, 2007

experiencing Christ's resurrection life

I've been meditating some of these days, recently on the book of Philippians. It is a book full of joy, the joy of the Lord. Paul was leaving the past: good, bad and all the rest, all that he was "in the flesh" to find Christ and live in the new way of the Spirit. This was a way that called him "upwards and onwards" far beyond where most Christians, it seems could even imagine (including myself). And yet these words, God's Word by the Spirit beckons us on to come and follow, yes, for all of us in Jesus.

After Paul remarks about how he left all that was considered necessary for life and indeed, in his case, everything behind him, he then tells us where he is going and what goal he is pressing towards. And this is in part what he follows after:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death

(Philippians 3:10; TNIV)

To know the resurrection life of Christ in the here and now! That is what Paul speaks of and this is for each of us. It is alive and invigorating and strengthening for us, in our following on, in the way of the Lord. But it takes a participation with Christ in his sufferings and a becoming like him in his death. This means death to any and all known sin in our lives, through repentance and faith; this is ongoing and an embracing of the will of God in Christ. It is a death which severs us from the old Adam and the old creation, and brings us into the new Adam, the new humanity in Christ, the new creation- already ours in Christ and therefore what we should be endeavoring to live in and live out.

This is a life that we're to experience together as Christ's Body on earth. But in the terms Paul speaks of it here, it is a life that we must enter into individually, as individual members of Christ's Body, being helped by other members who are doing this, and in turn helping other members to do the same.

Notice though, that even Paul, who was not a baby believer at this time, was expressing a desire for this. He made it clear that he hadn't arrived. But he certainly knew that this was where true life is found. And he wanted to be identified closely to his Lord. Think of the stoning he experienced. Surely his body was pumelled and marked by these and other ways he was persecuted for Christ. Yet he got up and went on, after such a beating and other deprivations (to be sure, with Luke the doctor, nearby). Couldn't it have been in large part because of the resurrection life of Jesus he was already experiencing in his heart and out from that to his body? Though certainly not sharing in the resurrection of the body which we await.

I want to know this, to know the humility, love and life that comes with it, to know the One much better from whom this all comes.

What about you? What would you add to this to help us, or any thought you'd like to share?


Ted Gossard said...

Well, I sensed a shot of that yesterday, and more than that. I didn't even drink coffee to keep me awake in the evening (maybe Miroslav Volf had something to do with that). But I just sensed Christ's resurrection life in my own body, as God was helping me through a very difficult, challenging, trying day, by his grace and as I sought (imperfectly as it was) to walk accordingly.

L.L. Barkat said...

I always admired Paul's way of looking forward, forgetting what was past. It seemed to free him.

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., I think so. He had found the true goal of his faith, which before, in living it out as he had, had escaped him. He was taken hold of by Christ so that he might take hold of Christ. And he never looked behind, it seems.