Philippians 3:10-11 The goal of life is to attain true happiness and eventually the resurrection
… the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Righteousness through faith in Christ, is evident in a life that is motivated by Christ’s passions to love God and others. The more the believer knows Christ through the word, and fellowship with His Spirit, the more he will resonate with Christ’s passions for the lost. The goal of the Christian life is to attain true happiness and significance, and eventually the resurrection. Today’s devotion teaches believers to commune with Christ’s passions and to participate in His work through which we attain true happiness and Christ’s resurrection when He returns.
… the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.
Fellowship (koinonia) carries a connotation of communion, a oneness resulting in a resonance in the parties involved. Sufferings (pathema) can also be interpreted as passion, an affective inward desire… as in the passions (pathema) of sin (see Romans 7:5). Hence, it is Christ’s passions of perfect love and obedience that compel Him to take on the afflictions of divine wrath on behalf of humanity. Paul caught a glimpse of Christ’s afflictions while suffering for the course of the gospel: being conformed to His death. Thus, he finds himself empathising and resonating with the very passions of Christ. In experiencing fellowship with the passions of Christ, Paul is able to put the interests of others before his own, to obey Him daily thus fulfilling his apostolic mission.
In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul consummates his desire to know Him in attaining the resurrection from the dead. The culmination of a life of fellowship of Christ’s passions and obedience towards God is the resurrection from the dead. However, the Greek verb for attain (is in a subjunctive mood) which carries a degree of contingency: may attain. The New King James Version and the English Standard Version translate: by any means or by any means possible, connotes the resurrection as a possibility, subject to future developments. But shouldn’t all believers be resurrected on the last day? Paul is in fact referring to the resurrection of the highest degree – Christ’s resurrection. Paul desires a kind of resurrection body and glory that Christ has attained.
Alluding to Paul’s teaching concerning the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:35-42: as there are different living things with different kinds of bodies; as there are different celestial bodies each with their respective glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead. Therefore, God will present to every believer a resurrection body according to his level of faith and works done on earth. In Paul’s terms, righteousness on the basis of faith is a journey of knowing Him, of attaining Christ’s power, Christ’s passion, and Christ’s resurrection.
Righteousness by faith (as opposed to righteousness derived from the Law) in a nutshell refers to adopting Christ’s manner of life, His passions for the lost culminating in His resurrection. Paul hopes to attain the Christ’s kind of resurrection that belongs only to those who give their lives wholly to fulfill the mission of Christ.
The desire to share in the sufferings of Christ is the evidence of righteousness.
Paul makes no apologies when he upholds that one who claims to possess righteousness on the basis of faith should also exhibit the desire to share in Christ’s sufferings. Or rather, those who are considered as righteous on the basis of faith are not afraid to make sacrifices for the purpose of the gospel. For such are willing to offer their personal resources in order to help those who are marginalised. Paul set himself up as an example, “I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed.” 2 Timothy 1:11-12. Paul is willing to endure a moment of suffering believing that will lead to an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (see 2 Corinthians 4:17). The evidence of righteousness in a believer is Christ-likeness, which translates into the willingness to suffer for the course of the gospel.
Many churchgoers instead see righteousness as instrumental to obtaining eternal life and the blessing of heaven but are not willing to participate in the mission of Christ. For such have misunderstood the meaning of eternal life. Eternal life as taught by Christ is, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3. And part of knowing Christ is to share in His passions and participate in His sufferings for the sake of the gospel.
Having said, those who are making sacrifices must not lose heart as their inner man is being renewed day by day (see 2 Corinthians 4:16). The renewal of the inner man translates into true happiness and blessedness. And the inner man which cannot be seen will eventually translate into a glorious resurrection body on the day when Christ returns.
The goal of the Christian life is to attain true happiness and significance and eventually the resurrection.
The purpose of all our earthly endeavours is to attain true happiness and significance and eventually a glorious resurrection like Christ’s. The believer who perseveres in fulfilling God’s instructions will experience in ever increasing measure true happiness and blessedness that money cannot buy. This abundance in the soul will keep increasing until it culminates in the resurrection. However, the human race has an obsession with things which are seen. And unfortunately, true happiness, significance and the resurrection are not.
Many churchgoers busy themselves with the cares of life and the gathering of wealth. Because they pay little attention to the growth and renewal of their inner man, they did not experience true blessedness and abundance. Besides, the prospect of a resurrection body does not seem too compelling a reason to change their mindset. Although, the decay of the human body is a clear enough indication that the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18. Therefore, believers must never be distracted but keep looking at the unseen – the promise of eternal glory in the resurrection.
Sharing in the sufferings of Christ includes sacrificing your time, talents and financial resources to help those who are marginalised. The act of serving the poor out of the passions of Christ renews our inner man resulting in true happiness and glory. Make time to participate in the outreach ministry of your church. Make efforts to visit the mission fields and spend time with the people there. Perhaps, they may be able to show you what true happiness and blessedness is.
Dear Lord, I desire to know you and experience your power and your passions. Create in me an obedience to get out of my comfort zone and to empathise with the sufferings of others. Regenerate and transform my vision according to the passions of Christ. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.