This is post #16 of a 26-session blog series entitled Two Joyful Pastors – One Great Work of Christ: A Journey with Paul, Timothy, and the Philippian Church. It was Eugene Peterson who said that Philippians is Paul’s happiest letter. Join us as we explore this joyful work of Christ as it manifest itself amongst Paul and Timothy, and the early church of Christ-followers in Philippi. Just maybe, we might learn a few secrets to finding true joy in the midst of our lives as well. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Today’s Lectio Divina: I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience His resurrection power, be a partner in His suffering, and go all the way with Him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it. Philippians 3: 10-11 (MsgB)
So, what do you want to be when you grow up?
It’s intriguing to see how our response to this question evolves as we grow older.
When I was a kid, growing up in small-town, Iowa, my dream was to become a famous baseball player, an astronaut, or President of the United States.
As I entered my college years, my interests became more focused, so my passion was to become a well-known composer or arranger, writing music for Broadway and Hollywood while winning numerous Grammy and Academy Awards along the way.
After I got married, settled down, and watched the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus, my desires became a bit more tame. Maybe I could settle for being a well-known band director whose groups would win top awards at state band contest each year?
After transitioning from a career as a band director to a pastor, in my forties and fifties, my passion became to lead the largest church in my city, reaching thousands for the cause of Christ, and of course, publishing a few best-selling books along the way.
Today, with all of those big dreams put away, I find my goals are much more practical, much more attainable, and a lot less complicated. Yet, if I’m totally honest with myself, I find that all of my dreams and passions over the years have a common theme. Marty Boller wants to be successful at what he does, be recognized as someone who has achieved a level of status and prestige, and will feel good about himself because he has accomplished something very special.
How about you?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Isn’t it interesting how our hopes and dreams reflect a lot about who we actually are and who we’d really like to become?
Yet, when I look at Philippians 3, verses 10-11, and find a very intriguing, if not confusing, answer to the question…
So, Paul, what do you want to be when you grow up?
I mean, come on, Paul…are you serious?
Sure, I get it when I read…
I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience His resurrection power…
Yup, I know that one, don’t you? All those outlandish, self-aggrandizing dreams to become the top dog at something, all seem to grow strangely dim as I’ve drawn closer and closer to Jesus. Indeed, I look at my shopping list of what I’ve wanted to accomplish over my lifetime, and, like Paul, I’d say so much of it is so inferior to my goal and passion of knowing Jesus of Nazareth, my Savior and Lord, and then, to walk in the power of His resurrected life.
But, wait. There’s more.
Now, Paul writes something here to his friends in Philippi that seems…
…so very, very strange.
(I want to) be a partner in His suffering, and go all the way with Him to death itself.
Paul…what are you saying? Have you gone completely mad?
Maybe all that time in jail has started to play with your mind? For no one, Paul, in their right mind, would choose partnering with Christ in His suffering and death…
…would they, Paul?
Apparently, (and folks, I’m hunting for words here) but, apparently…
Paul has stumbled onto some eternal truth here. A biblical truth that, sadly, so few of us living here in our affluent, upwardly mobile, westernized society have discovered for ourselves.
The truth is this…
In order to have Jesus of Nazareth as the central passion of our lives, you and I will not be allowed to cherry-pick only those characteristics of Christ-likeness that appeal to our flesh. Much to the dismay of my westernized worldview, following Jesus must not only include walking in the power of His resurrected life (Hallelujah), but will also entail joining Him in His sufferings and death (Gulp).
Yet, here’s the good news…
Paul, ends by reminding us that all of this, the good, the bad and the ugly of being in Christ, will end well! Very well, indeed!
Yes, my friends, in Christ, we will all…
Get in on the resurrection from the dead!
I love happy endings, don’t you?
Today’s Prayer: Father God, I confess to You, that it’s much easier for me to choose the uplifting side, the power-of-resurrection side of Christ, when I dream about what I want to be when I grow up. Yet, as Paul and the many other Christian martyrs over the centuries remind us, there is a side to our maturing faith that will also invite us onto Jesus’ road of suffering and death. Holy Spirit, as I choose all of the qualities of Christ-likeness, may You indwell me and empower me with Your strength, Your hope, Your life. For Your Name’s sake and for Your Glory. Amen.
Today’s Questions to Ponder: Am I willing to embrace the full passion of Jesus Christ, not just the good and uplifting parts? What aspects of Jesus’ suffering and death am I being invited into today? Am I willing to explore these Christ-like options, knowing that through it all, Jesus’ resurrection life is there to carry me through?
So, how are you experiencing Jesus as we ponder together on this journey into the Book of Philippians?
Two Joyful Pastors – One Great Work of Christ: A Journey with Paul, Timothy, and the Philippian Church. We hope you’ll enjoy this series of 26 blogs. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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