Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. 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, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—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 (Phil. 3:8-11 ESV- underlining emphasis mine)Too often we try to render Christianity Christless. Why? Because of the scandal of the Cross. The Lord bids us follow Him, but in the next breath He tells us what this means, which is to follow Him to the Cross, to daily die to self. In meeting the Lord we must die in the process, it will kill us, nobody encounters the living God and survives intact: "the old Adam must die," Metropolitan Anthony succinctly observed. "We are intensely attached to old man," he continued, we are "afraid for him, and it is very difficult, not only at the outset but years after we have begun, to feel that we are completely on the side of Christ, against the old Adam." In short, it is a prolonged, violent death because we hold on thinking, "Better the devil I know than the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come."
It seems clear from Scripture and is verified through experience that in order to know the power of His resurrection we must share His sufferings. So that, becoming like Him in His death, we may live for ever. It is the unavoidable paradox. Our baptism is a powerful symbol of just what is at stake. As a friend of mine who was going through a life-and-death experience a few years back responded when I told her the Lord was at work, using what she was going through to draw her to Himself: "I prefer that He use other methods."
Jesus, I trust in you.
Father, he who knew no sin was made sin for us,
to save us and restore us to your friendship.
Look upon our contrite heart and afflicted spirit
and heal our troubled conscience,
so that in the joy and strength of the Holy Spirit
we may proclaim your praise and glory before all the nations. Amen.