All I Care For

  • June 7, 2011
  • #7592

Hi, I’m Joni and one of my favorite passages is in the book of Philippians.

Hey, I love the whole book, but that third chapter that the apostle Paul wrote when he was in prison… wow. Every once in awhile I’ll read the third chapter of Philippians in different translations or maybe a paraphrase, and the other day I was looking at it in the New English Bible. And it struck me starting with the tenth verse, Paul says, “All I care for is to know Christ, to experience the power of his resurrection, and to share in his sufferings, in growing conformity with his death.” 

I like the way it starts off: Paul writes, “All I care for is to know Christ.” And, yes, we all readily agree with the apostle, right? We’d all like to know Jesus better; be on good terms with Him; be His confidant, be invited into His inner circle of friends. “All I care for is... to experience the power of the resurrection.” Absolutely! Who wouldn’t want the Lord’s power in their life? Bring it on! “All I care for is... to share in his sufferings.” Well… uh, okay. I guess tough times in moderate doses isn’t all that bad; our souls all need a good scrubbing now and then, as long as ‘sharing in His sufferings’ isn’t too inconvenient or doesn’t harm my family or ruin my reputation. And finally: “All I care for is...to grow in conformity with His death.” Wait a minute, not so fast. Like, being physically harmed for my faith? Like living with chronic pain? Like losing my family and friends? Rejection and abuse? On second thought, I really don’t care to know Christ that badly. 

Funny, isn’t it? We memorize Philippians 3:10 and some of us have made it our life verse. We embroider it, frame it and put it on our walls. We listen to sermons about it and quote it often to each other. But if we stop and read it… really read and ponder and meditate and consider what it means, most of us silently would admit to ourselves, nah… I like knowing Jesus… I care about getting close to Him, but not that close… not to the point of death. 

Most of us admire the sort of closeness the apostle Paul enjoyed with Jesus. We would love to have Paul’s faith and strength of character. We yearn to live that courageously, pray that faithfully, speak that boldly, and fight temptations that manfully. And who wouldn’t want to have prayers answered like Paul did? But here’s the catch: to know Christ is always a personal invitation to suffer with Him. No one enters the Lord’s intimate fellowship; no one becomes His confidant or shares His friendship, without first entering His fellowship of suffering. Paul knew this; but it did not deter him. He knew the sweetness of communion with Christ far outweighed the sufferings. 

Can you see now why Philippians 3:10 means so much to me? Why it’s such a favorite? My wheelchair – these forty-some-odd years of dealing daily with physical affliction-- has escorted me into that marvelous fellowship where I’ve discovered that sweetness of communion with Jesus. And so may I encourage you today – do not allow the fear of hardship, pain or problems deter you from your desire to know Christ, I mean really knowing. In your quest, the Lord promises He will never give you trials that, without His enabling, you cannot handle. Jesus knows how much you can bear; He understands your limits. But He’s also out to draw you into that intimate circle. So today thank Him for that hardship that heartache He’s using to draw you to His side.

© Joni and Friends

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