Scanned and Digitized from The Christian Pathway publication.
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).
To be in fellowship with someone is to commune with him, to walk with him, to have a personal knowledge of him and agreement with him. That is what Paul is here desiring — to know Christ. Of course he was ahead, born of the Spirit and knew Jesus in that vital sense, but he wanted to know Him better. He wanted to draw closer to Him.
If we would know Jesus better, then we must have the fellowship of his sufferings. If we would walk with Him, then we will walk through trials and troubles, for that is where He walked. “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Paul is by no means suggesting that we should desire to suffer for suffering’s sake. “Lead us not into temptation” or trials, Jesus taught us to pray. Trials are not something that is desirable in itself, but if it is necessary to suffer to walk with Jesus, the great good of being with Him so vastly overrides any hardship we might encounter as to make it of no consequence. “Prisons would palaces prove if Jesus would dwell with me there,” the poet rightly said.
Paul said that he desired to be made conformable to Christ’s death. Jesus’ death was a death of obedience to the Father. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). Paul desired to be obedient just as Jesus was obedient, even in the most difficult matters. If we would walk with Jesus, then we must be obedient to the Father. That is where Jesus walked — in paths of righteousness — and if we would walk with Him we must walk there, also. Wicked men hate righteousness and will persecute those who walk therein. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you. and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake, Rejoice. and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they th’ prophets which were before you.” That is what our Lord said, and we know it is true. It is a blessing to be allowed to suffer for Christ’s sake, for in so doing we are enabled to draw near to Him, to have the fellowship of His sufferings and to be made conformable to His death.
Not all saints have been called upon to suffer greatly for the cause of Christ. Most of us have not “resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” Our suffering has been relatively mild. Our Christian profession has not cost us our blood — but it has cost many their lives. Many have been driven out from among men so that “they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrew 11:38). They were despised and rejected of men, as was Jesus, but they enjoyed His sweet fellowship. To walk with Jesus, to have fellowship with Him, is the greatest privilege granted to men in this life. “Through floods and flames f Jesus lead, I’ll follow where he goes.”
— Elder Mark Green