The Believer's Highest Calling--Empathetic Identification with Christ

The hurt at times reaches into the very depths of my soul and causes me to fall on my side and curl up in a ball. The pain is not physical nor is it psychological. No drug brings it on and no drug could make it go away. The deep pain I am referring to is the empathetic identification I have with my Lord Jesus Christ.

Many years ago, I spent dozens of hours studying Philippians chapter three, especially the second half of the chapter. I did this because I wanted, more than anything in life, to be able to say what the Apostle Paul said of himself in that chapter. From the time this yearning started thirty years ago, my life's greatest goal is to honestly say with convection and by experience the following:

"But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ
.
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

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 3:7-14 NKJV

That which represents my life's dream is to be able to KNOW by experience the power of Christ's resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings. This is done by being conformed to his death. Unless we die with Jesus we can never experience the power of his resurrection. We can never die with Him unless we are willing to share fully in His sufferings.

The past few days have taken much out of me. I was up much of Friday night due to the empathetic identification I felt with both the Lord Jesus and many of His people suffering in Texas and Louisiana. I have besought the Lord for thirty years to allow me to share in His pain when His people are hurting. Thousands upon thousands of born again believers had to endure an experience Friday night and Saturday morning few of us could comprehend. Due to their suffering, the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ was burdened with suffering also.

Jesus did not just suffer through the beatings and other things associated with paying the price for our redemption and healing. Jesus still suffers every time His people let him down or are subjected to torture, persecution or pain. This suffering is not related to our salvation, it is related to the LOVE and COMPASSION which fills the heart of our Lord Jesus. Times such as this weekend literally cause Him to sit on His throne and weep.

I have diligently prayed that my Lord would allow me to share fully in His sufferings both past and present. I have diligently prayed for my Lord to allow me to be conformed to his death. I take pride in little in the life, but one thing I do thank God for is that I can honestly say there is nothing in this life worth me living for outside of my Lord, His people and the furtherance of His Kingdom.

Long ago I cast all my accomplishments, aspirations and desires at His feet and asked Him to grind them to pieces. Long ago I turned my whole life over to Him and asked Him to do with me as He pleased. This life I live is not my own, for I have been bought with a price so that this life can be a glory to Him.

My heart is still filled with heaviness for I know many of God's people are suffering greatly. Not only in Texas and Louisiana, but all around the world. The degree and extent of persecution against Christians is rising rapidly in some countries. The degree and extent of Christians turning their back on their Lord is rising just as rapidly.

One by one, I have watched as first one and then another lifelong friend, relative or acquaintance seeks to distance themselves as far away from me as possible due to my beliefs. One by one, the fellowship of those whom I counted as yoke fellows or comrades has shrunk to the point of only a few remaining. I feel the pain as one by one, great men and women for God get sucked away from Him like those who perished in the storm surge the other night. Their very life sucked out of their lungs.

These are trying times in which we live, for God is trying and testing His people to see who is REAL and who is not. Through pressures and pleasures, God is winnowing His flock as we approach the end of the age. Those whose hearts have grown hard and whose love has become cold will suffer greatly in the time to come. Those whose commitment to the Lord has grown stronger and whose love has become deeper will be rewarded with being a part of an event all but a scant few have totally rejected as a lie.

Yes, I will believe in the rapture of those who have "passed the test" till the day I cease to draw breath on this earth. Whether anyone else believes as I do is between them and our Lord. As for me; I have devoted my life to ridding myself of worldly baggage and becoming in all ways as much like my Lord as I can. I have willingly sacrificed this world's fame and fortune in order to "gain Christ" and to be a part of the "out-resurrection" from the dead.

I have tried to forget all that is behind me and concentrate only on serving and giving my life to Him from this time forward. I want NOTHING this world has to offer and would gladly give my life instead of compromising my faith to have fame or fortune. No amount of money on earth could sway me to forsake my Lord and become someone just like everyone else in this world. This world can come take this house, my van and even my dogs. Under no circumstances will this world take my soul, for it belongs only to my Lord Jesus Christ.

Do not include honorifics.
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