“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8–11).
THE POINT OF LIFE IN CHRIST IS THAT WE MAY “KNOW HIM AND THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION.” The value of knowing Christ so far excels the value of anything in this world that we are willing to suffer the loss of all else, if need be, in order to “gain Christ and be found in Him.” Life in Christ is not primarily about relief right now from the trauma of living in a broken world. Indeed, to be in fellowship with Christ means to know “the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” in order that we may “attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
To the ears of the Christian these truths should sound self-evident. Unfortunately, the concept of Christianity that has come to be dominant in our day is one that runs in a different direction. According to this concept, emotional pain relief is the basic, overall concern of life in Christ. Offering health, wealth, and complete emotional bliss, it promises to take away the deep ache of our needy, broken souls and to do so in the here and now. The new gospel is fundamentally about “feeling better.” It is about us.
But the historic gospel is not first and foremost about feeling better; it is about glorifying God through Christ and coming to be like Him. Christ did not die for the mere betterment of our feelings, and seeking God through Him is not mostly about pain relief. It is about character transformation. And even more than character transformation, it is about the glorification of God. Far from eliminating the possibility of pain, the glorification of God may require the suffering of pain, even to the point of death. Our expectation should be no less than that of Paul, whose only hope was that “with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20,21).
“Modern Christianity, in dramatic reversal of its biblical form, promises to relieve the pain of living in a fallen world” (Larry Crabb).