“I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” - [Philippians 3:10-11]
My Dad gave me a love and a passion for the game of baseball. My Dad was a simple man. He worked hard most of his life in a steel fabrication plant. And even though he worked hard, he always made time to take me to Big Red Field to teach me the game that I came to love. During my adolescent years, I could recite from memory the number of home runs that the most influential players in Major League Baseball had for a particular season. It wasn’t uncommon for me to also know which players played for which teams before they played on their current team and sometimes where they played in college. I was a walking baseball encyclopedia.
As a student of biology in high school, I remember scouring my textbook with classmates in an attempt to learn enough to pass the class. We highlighted material in the text that we thought relevant for upcoming tests. We made flash cards to quiz each other. Ms. Maynard, who had a love for all things protons, electrons, cells and skeletal systems did her dead level best to stoke a passion for biology in the young minds of men and women in her class. But for me, learning about biology became much more real the day she trusted us with scalpels and dead pigs that made our classroom smell like formaldehyde.
As someone who has been in the church for a while now, I too, want to “know Christ.” Typically when we speak of knowing Christ though, we speak of knowing Christ in a purely intellectual way. We study Jesus’ words. Some of us even commit them to memory. But, I believe, to truly know Christ we must be willing to get dirty.
For Paul, to know Christ, was to suffer with him. As citizens of heaven, with a dual citizenship -- and learning lab on earth, we have ample opportunity to know Christ. But to know Christ, we must find pockets of hopelessness and despair and join Christ there. It is in the pain and the suffering that we experience the presence of Christ and the mighty power that raised him from the dead!