by Dane Massey
(Dane Massey is the former Pastor of Mulvane Christian Church. He is now in ministry in Houston, Texas.)
How would you describe your journey to know Christ in two words?
Did you come up with “sustained passion”?
Many of us can’t claim that. In fact, far too many fit the two-word description “sunshine soldier.”
For a look at sustained passion in a journey to know Christ, we walk with the apostle Paul today in Philippians 3:10. In the NASB it reads: “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
This journey is no mere jaunt. The line in the sand in our walk with Christ is always desire. How strong is that desire? There must be a holy dissatisfaction with the status quo.
Paul could say, “this one thing I do….” For many of us it’s, “these many things we dabble in.” This must be a whole life pursuit that is no mere theory or ivory tower idea where one withdraws to a monastery.
Paul intended to truly know Christ, to meet Him and experience Him, in the pages and parchments (II Tim. 4:13), in the work place of tent building, in the cold prison cells, in suffering that encompassed beatings to shipwrecks to the late night watches of prayer and fasting (II Cor. 11:23-33).
Whether it be in fellowship or loneliness, the success of ministry or weakness, abundance or poverty, there was only one focus, one holy passion: to know Christ (II Cor. 12:7-10).
I am too easily satisfied. Philippians 3 is written from a prison cell 30 years into Paul’s pursuit of Christ and still he’s counting everything lost for the “excellency of the knowledge of Christ.”
We are too easily turned aside by the desires of this world, distracted by the tinsel of man’s approval, discouraged by the mere frowns of those we esteem, and drained by the bitterness of hardship and disappointment.
We are like the grade school athlete who aspires to be a professional, but a five-minute workout sends them scurrying for the video game.
Christ will not be known by the flippant nor the sunshine soldier. I must count all things lost!
Where does this sustained passion come from? Paul’s list gives some insight: “… that I may know Him, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His suffering, and join Him in His character, attitude and disposition as He embraced the cross”. (My translation).
The list seems to be backwards when one first looks at it. It would appear that it would be suffering, death then resurrection. But Paul begins with “the power of His resurrection.”
This sustained passion has a Sovereign God side to it that when missing, results in many false starts. Like the buying of a gym membership that only encompasses one trip to the facility then the purchasing of workout equipment that quickly become an expensive clothes hanger.
I need God to open my spiritual eyes that I can see the Pearl of Great Price. Otherwise, I will never sell everything that I might have it (Matthew 13:45-46).
I need, as David prayed, for God to “Cause me to hear thy loving kindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee” (Psalm 143:8).
I need God to draw me, to create in me a hunger and a thirst for Him that cannot be satisfied nor quenched.
This will not take me from the world of hardship, disappointment and heartache for I will meet Him in the midst of it. I will find myself glorying in my infirmities, in my reproaches, in my necessities, for when I am weak, He is strong and His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
This is the power of His resurrection!
It makes the dark life shine as the noon day. It gets you out of the bed of discouragement and clothes you in the garment of hope for “tribulation builds endurance and endurance character, and character hope, and hope never disappoints for the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that is given unto us (Romans 5:3-6).
The Sovereign God has ordained my circumstances that I might know Him!