Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Fellowship of His Sufferings

Read Philippians 3:1-21
We often like to quote the first third of Philippians 3:10, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection”. That is the stuff of victory! To intimately “know” Jesus is divine. To experience the dynamite “power of His resurrection” is supernatural. Pastor Dennis Whitmire of First Baptist Church of Nash, Texas said that people tend stop there, because what follows is not so glamorous. The verse continues to say, “and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Oh, we really do not want to consider suffering. And being conformed to His dead is certainly an uncomfortable prospect. But that is exactly what Paul said. In preceding verses, Paul warns us to beware of putting our confidence in the flesh. Before He had an encounter on the Damascus road, he had accomplished much. Paul was a Hebrew, followed every minute detail of the law, a Pharisee and the model Pharisee. He considered all of these things as a loss when compared with knowing Christ, sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings, and being conformed to His death.
It is time that we remove a false image of Christ from our minds. If we are honest, we have sanitized who Jesus truly is. He left heaven’s glory, to be born in a smelly manger, served fallen man, suffered unimaginable scorn, ridicule and cruelty at His trial and scourging, and strained for every last breath as he hung, unrecognizable, on a cruel Roman cross.
Before the wonderful fragrance of a perfume can be enjoyed, a rather uncomfortable process must occur.
1. Collection -The plant substances (flowers, grasses, herbs, spices) must be chosen, usually hand picked to make the perfume desired by the perfumer. It is a real art the perfumer performs in selecting the right combinations of substances to make the desired blend. Like the perfumer, God is sovereign and He chooses those He desires to make His chosen fragrance to perfume our world. (I Peter 2:9)
2. Extraction -The perfumer extracts the oils from plants through different processes: steam distillation, solvent extraction, effleurage, maceration, and expression. These processes involved heat, steam, boiling, spinning, dissolving chemicals, and pressing. The result is a more concentrated oil. God does the same in His refining process for his chosen flowers. He places us in difficult circumstances to purify us for His use (Psalm 66:10).
3. Blending –The perfume oils are blended together. The oils and proportions are chosen by a man known as a “nose”. The nose may chose hundreds of oils in one perfume. God places each member of the body into the local church to accomplish His purposes. We are not here by chance or choice. He calls us to the local church. 1 Corinthians 12:12-37…”God has combined the members of the body.”

4. Aging - The great perfume is often aged for years after being blended. After proper aging, a “nose” will test the perfume for the correct aroma. The perfume industry uses musical jargon to describe the quality of perfumes. Perfumes have three notes. “Notes de tete” or top notes have tangy or citrus-like smells. “Notes de coeur” or central or heart notes (flowers like rose and jasmine) give the perfume body. “Notes de fond” or base notes (woody fragrances) give a lasting fragrance. It takes much time for a fine perfume to age and it takes time for the members of a church body to become what God desires. We need all kinds: top notes, heart notes, and base notes to be a fully functioning body. We’d all like to sing the melody, but without the harmony and bass parts, our music would be rather bland!

I love the imagery of the perfume and the refining process involved with that to describe what Paul was speaking of when he said, “that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.

How easy it is to blame our difficulties on the Devil. When you go through trials, consider these two questions. Am I in this situation because of my actions? Could God have placed me in this circumstance so that I can share in the fellowship of His sufferings? God could be refining you to transform you into the image of Christ!

*Information about the manufacture of perfumes was gathered from http://www.enotes.com/how-products-encyclopedia/perfume

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Eric, this was a wonderful post, God gave you a message, and you delivered! Wow! I have never really thought of the "Perfume" process; this was quite interesting!