Christ's resurrection frees us

"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 from the dead." Philippians 3:9-11

Because I have chosen to follow Christ, I am more aware of Christ's sufferings during this week--Holy Week. I read a little extra in the Scriptures so that I can think about what he went through on each day. I watch "The Passion of the Christ" or the "Jesus" film to help me remember. When Easter comes we celebrate with our church family and then with our immediate family. It's fun to watch the little ones run after hidden eggs.

However, the resurrection stays with me all year round. Because of it, there is power to live as Christ wants. The above verse is one that I selected for my life's verse one year while we were struggling. It's a touchy verse. It starts off great and then the writer, Paul, gets into subjects like suffering and death. Those are not fun subjects.

At first glance, this verse is shocking. Are we supposed to suffer on purpose? Are we supposed to recklessly abandon all and seek martyrdom in every way that we can? I don't think so. Paul uses the phrase "like him." In response I ask, "How did Jesus suffer?" "How did he die?" The two answers that come to mind are lovingly and willingly. Christ was submissive. He did what God wanted him to do because God wanted him to do it--not for any glory that he might receive as a result.

Only a great love would cause someone to die for a world full of sinners. As one who has accepted God's grace through Christ, I must love others to the point of suffering. This, however, is not a doormat situation; nor is it justification for abuse. This love is a willingness to love others regardless of their actions. It means to forgive when wronged. It means to be patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, rude or self-seeking. It means to not anger easily or to keep record of wrongs (see I Corinthians 13).

Like Jesus, I must face the challenge of loving everyone around me. Sometimes it's easy, other times it isn't. It is the power of Christ's resurrection that frees me to do this.