Going Beyond Facebook Christianity

Title: Going Beyond Facebook Christianity

Bible Book: Philippians 3 : 10

Author: Rick Lance

Subject: Christ, Intimate with; Fellowship with Jesus



The Facebook phenomenon is intriguing to me. More than 200 million people have joined the Facebook movement, which is essentially a social network on line. Initially, young people were the main participants with Facebook. Then their parents became involved, perhaps in an effort to keep up with what their children and youth were doing and saying online. Finally, the grandparents joined the parade. They wanted to be friends online with their grandchildren and children, but staying connected with their grandchildren was the primary motivation.

I joined the social network to have another connecting link with younger pastors and church leaders. To be honest, I rarely have time or take the time to leave a message on the Facebook Wall for others to read. Candidly, I have spent most of my Facebook time confirming friends, in an attempt to know people better.

The Facebook phenomenon points to the continuing need for people to develop relationships in life. Some of us are reserved and reticent, others are more gregarious and affable, but all of us need positive and affirming relationships in life. For the Christian, knowing Christ intimately is going beyond a Facebook kind of social networking friendship. It means that Christ lives within us. Paul affirmed that intimacy when He described his passion and purpose as, "My goal is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death."(Philippians 3:10, HCSB)

That is a strong testimony from one who is worthy of emulation. This is an in-depth kind of relationship, not a superficial friendship found so often today in our efforts to know others. The Apostle Paul had his adversities in life, and he faced some very hard times, yet he said, "What has happened to me has actually resulted in the advancement of the gospel."(Philippians 1:12 HCSB)

Paul had some notable assets in his life. He was an educated man, and he was well born. However, to him it was considered a loss, rather than a gain. His goal, his aim, his ambition is to know Christ. Everything else is rubbage and worthy of disposal. Paul was a "this one thing I do" kind of Christian, and that one thing was to know Christ intimately and make Him known personally. Paul knew Christ, but He wanted to know Him more deeply and intimately, so that he could share Him with others. What does he mean by this goal of knowing Christ? He offers three dimensions of this intimate relationship with Christ.

I. To Know Christ Is To Know The Power Of His Resurrection

Think of that affirmation. The power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is what it means to know Christ. This is not historical knowledge but relational knowledge. It is a personal and experiential kind of relationship. It is a relationship so deep in love with Christ and His mission for our lives that we, like Paul, become consumed by the passion and purpose of Christ Himself.

I am told that when Mel Gibson had his initial pre-release of the Passion of the Christ, representatives of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association were among the first to view the epic film. As I understand the situation, originally, the motion picture ended with the crucifixion of Christ. These evangelical leaders advised Mel Gibson to focus on the resurrection. Therefore, the Passion of The Christ ends the way it should, with the power of His resurrection being depicted on the silver screen. Jim Cavieszel authenticately portrayed Christ standing up in the tomb and facing the rising sun on that resurrection morning.

Without the power of the resurrection, there is no gospel. We only have a positive thinking approach espoused by some of the well known popular preachers on tv today. There really is no gospel without the resurrection. We just have a Facebook Christianity, where people starving for relationships, surf the internet world looking for friendships and relationships. As believers, you and I have the power of His resurrection, which makes all the difference in the world. We move from leaving messages on the Facebook Wall to becoming infused by the power and presence of Christ in daily living.

II. To Know Christ Is To Know The Fellowship Of His Sufferings

The power of His resurrection is a positive. The fellowship of His sufferings sounds negative. Who wants to suffer? Yet, that is a major part of knowing Christ. You cannot experience His power without also coming to know His sufferings. In John chapter six, many of the curiosity seekers, who followed Christ early in His ministry, left Him when our Lord began to speak in so called "hard sayings." For them, this was just too hard. There was too much suffering. The road was too narrow.

When I visited Pleasant Hill Baptist Church following their tragic fire, I found a church suffering. The church building was burned to the ground. As Alabama Baptists, we are going to send the church one of our mobile chapels, and we have sent some disaster relief funds to help them through this difficult time. Pleasant Hill Baptist Church knows something of the fellowship of His sufferings. They will rebuild, but right now they are suffering. There is so much pain in the loss for this church family. Yet because of the power of His resurrection, the church will resurrect from the ruins of the fire.

III. To Know Christ Is To Be Conformed To His Death

You can't know the power of His resurrection, without being conformed to His death. As we live this life for Christ, we learn more and more about the death of Christ. We have His death appropriated to our lives and we begin to comprehend the abundant life Christ promised us. The abundant life is not a life without suffering and death; it is a life of going beyond suffering and death through the resurrection power of Christ. Because He lives, we also live!

I received a hand written note from Jo Ann Leavell, wife of the deceased former president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Landrum Leavell. She was thanking me and others for making gifts to the seminary in memory of Dr. Leavell. In this brief note, I could actually feel the pain of her grief. The last sentence summed up everything, "Keep praying for me as I look for a new normal."

A new normal for the Christian is to live for Christ in the best and worst of times. The new normal is being conformed to the death of Christ, knowing the fellowship of His sufferings and the power of His resurrection! A new normal means going beyond a Facebook kind of Christianity to know Christ in His fullness. It is living with the face of Christ in our lives, so others can come to "know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death."

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