Summary: Pain and suffering help us understand the suffering of Christ.

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Title: Prescriptive Pain and Suffering

Text: Philippians 3:7-11, Romans 8:17; I Peter 4:12

Thesis: Pain and suffering help us understand the suffering of Christ.

This is the second message in a Lenten Series: Knowing Christ Through Pain and Suffering. The Apostle Paul wrote, I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him in his death and so, somehow, to attain to the

resurrection of the dead. Philippians 3:10-11


When you are given a prescription, you are given a written directive for a therapeutic treatment. In simple terms it means the doctor writes an order telling you how to get well. I would like to stretch the definition a bit to include “how to” do something.

How do you get to know someone?

The people offer a written directive on how to get to know someone on their web site. They suggest:

1. Keep conversations active by listening and responding physically. Nod you head. Smile. Look your new friend right smack in the eye.

2. Don’t forget to respond verbally too. Ask questions. Convince yourself that you want to know about the other person.

3. Plan activities that allow you to spend time together. Make consistent contact either by phone, e-mail, or in person. Let them know you enjoy their company.

4. Be honest about your interests and opinions.

5. Keep their interest. Tell them interesting things about yourself, your likes, and dislikes.

6. Offer to share something nice, like cookies.

7. People are drawn to people who look like they are enjoying life, so wear that winning smile.

I was especially amused by their “How to Act Like You Care” suggestions:

1. Make sure you are making eye contact… don’t be looking off into the distance.

2. Nod a lot and pretend like you are interested in what they are saying.

3. Smile periodically and say things like, “Oh really? Wow” and “Yeah…” a lot. And throw in a “mhm” or a “hm” from time to time.

4. Have a sincere face at all times.

5. When they are finished talking explain how you hate to leave and how you really enjoyed talking about whatever it was they were talking about. (

What does it mean when we read the expressed sentiment: I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead?

Our text raises a series of “what does that mean” questions:

• What does it mean to know Christ?

• What does it mean to experience the power of Christ’s resurrection?

• What does it mean to share in Christ’s sufferings?

• What does it mean to attain the resurrection of the dead?

So how is it that we may know Christ?

I. What does it mean to know Christ?

• I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… Philippians 3:7-9

The easiest way to understand the phrase “to know” is to understand the meaning of the Hebrew word “yada.” It is not so much a knowledge word as an experience word. It signifies a close, intimate, and personal knowledge of another person… not just knowing about another person.

Initially it means that we need to realize that, contrary to everything we might think about ourselves, we do not begin a relationship with Christ thinking that Christ is really lucky to have the chance to get to know us.

We begin a meaningful relationship with Christ by dropping all pretenses.

A. It means loosing one’s sense of self-righteousness and spiritual entitlement.

• I have reasons for confidence in the flesh… Philippians 3:4-6

• I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him. Philippians 3:8-9

It also means that we also accept all that Jesus Christ is. We accept what Christ brings to the table… that being his mercy and grace.

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B. It means gaining a righteousness that comes from God. It suggests that this relationship is about the other person… Christ.

• I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. Philippians 3:9

Bonnie has an antique balancing scale which balances weights on a slide against whatever is in the pan. But I would like for you to stretch you imaginations to an even older style of balancing scale… one with two pans. In one pan you place all of the good things you can put together that you consider of be of spiritual merit: Your heritage and Christian upbringing, your dedication, your baptism, your confirmation, your church membership, your Christian marriage and home, your witness in word and deed, your service to God and others, your contributions… and you place it all in one pan. You can visualize seeing the weight of all those things radically tip the scale to the side of an exaggerated sense of self-worth and achievement.

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