For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in death.
—Philippians 3:8, 10
We’re now in the season of Lent, a time of repentance and prayer that is often more characterized by the obligatory “giving up” or the “doing” of something—even in secular circles. Even those who wonder “why do people give things up until Easter Sunday?” will get answers online similar to this one: “Millions of people do this during Lent as a sign of sacrifice and to test their self-discipline.”
The suggested sacrifices from largely secular circles to test self-discipline included giving up chocolate, sweets, or even social media. “Helping out more with chores at home or making an effort to do nice things” were recommendations for the “doing” of things, which makes one wonder if those things will discontinue once Easter arrives. A Denver morning radio show lauded a colleague who said he would pick up discarded cigarette butts from sidewalks for Lent—while dismissing callers as “judgmental” who objected to that type of “doing” as not what Lent is truly about.
Emphasized by and solemnly observed in liturgical church circles, the repentance and prayer of Lent, as a coworker shared while leading office devotions one day, is to “reflect on the unique juxtaposition and relationship between sorrow and joy, death and resurrection life, sin and salvation, sinners and the Savior.” The crux of the six-week journey with Christ to reflect on His sufferings, crucifixion, and resurrection is that in losing our former lives in repentance and by accepting His atoning death for our sins, we “may gain Christ and be found in Him…may know Him and the power of His resurrection.”
The Apostle Paul, who wrote the Book of Philippians while in prison for his uncompromising stance of living a life totally sold out to Christ, takes what may be only seasonal contemplation to another level, one where we may squirm and gloss over: “…and [that we] may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.”
In the book Hearts of Fire, “Tara,” who is one of more than 360 million persecuted Christians worldwide in 2021 as reported by Open Doors International, in her gain of Christ is a also life of sharing His sufferings. Beaten, homeless, on the run from her family seeking to kill her, and constantly questioned by authorities, she ministers to others converting from Islam. As the epilogue points out, “For Tara’s protection, nothing more can be said of where she lives, nor can details be given of her Christian activities. But one thing is for sure: She lives in a world apart from most Christians. For the most part, even those in her own church remain ignorant of her life as a converted Muslim, of the risks she faces each day.”
Regardless of denomination, and before we can really celebrate what Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the grave means for each of us, we can never go wrong by taking a contemplative journey of repentance with Christ on His road of suffering. OCF prayer warrior teammates—what are your prayer requests or praises?