Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the los of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own…but that which comes through faith in Christ…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:8-11 (NIV)
Recently, I have thought more and more about the question: Why don’t we see the kinds of things that those who walked with Jesus saw? Why don’t we see the healings? Why don’t we experience the power? Is it because they walked in a specific time with a specific pouring out of God’s power in the person of His Son – Jesus Christ? I suppose so. But, didn’t Jesus say, “…whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works that these will he do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). Is it because God works in the spiritual realm now (since the ascension of Jesus), not so much in the physical one? I guess you could say that, but isn’t that idea challenged by the testimony of the Christians in Acts along with the testimonies of Christians throughout history, and even some today? Now, I must admit that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom in the present, and we await its physical consummation in the future. But, that doesn’t mean that the physical realities of the future aren’t expressed in the present world in which we live, does it? No. Then, why are our Christian experiences so lacking of the power of Christ that was so evident when he walked on earth and just after his ascension when his church was being formed?
Many people would explain this by saying that we experience a “crisis of faith.” In other words, we don’t believe enough. But, how do you quantify belief? You either believe or you don’t, just as you’re either pregnant or not. You can’t be a little bit pregnant, and you can’t have a little bit of belief if you hold to the biblical gospel. If the amount of belief you have determines the depth of your relationship with Christ, then your belief becomes the work upon which you are saved. And, that is no salvation at all. So, we have to reject that.
I believe the reason that we lack power is an issue of PRIDE. It’s one thing to believe in Christ; it’s another thing to depend upon Christ. It’s one thing to call upon your belief from time to time, even regularly in your life; but, it’s a whole other thing to draw every breath from your faith in Christ, to get your very lifeblood from him. In order to do that we must be humbled in his grace. That’s what Paul writes, isn’t it? I’ve given it all up for the righteousness that comes through faith so that I may by any means possible attain the power of the resurrection of the dead. And Paul saw that resurrection power at work in him and in the church as others sought the same goal –the glory of Christ – in their brokenness before Christ. Let me ask you, do you know that broken dependence upon Jesus about which Paul testifies?
Let me give you a test to help you answer that question. What do you do when there is trouble in your life, when life is too big for you, when you can’t make heads or tails of life? What do you do? Do you withdraw from God and his people? Do you isolate yourself saying, “I just need to deal with this personal issue by myself? I don’t want to burden people with my problems. When I get it all figured out, I’ll be straight and get back with God’s people.” Do you get angry with yourself? With others who aren’t struggling? With God? Do you find yourself joyless – not struggling with depression (we all do that), but completely devoid of joy? Are you overwhelmed by shame? If so, and if you are doing these things, the chances are pretty high that you aren’t living in the full resurrection power of Christ. This is because your life depends upon what you do rather on what God has done in Christ and is doing through his Spirit in the lives of his people.
So, the question remains: Why don’t we see the things the disciples saw? Why don’t experience the working of the resurrection power in our lives? I think it’s simple: we are too proud to depend upon Christ, to draw our very breath from him. Friends, we don’t have a faith problem. We have a PRIDE problem. May God humble us and break us in his grace so that we can know his power and say, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the los of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own…but that which comes through faith in Christ…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”