For many years my favorite Bible passage has been the Apostle Paul's words in Philippians 3:10 - "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death."
I often prayed the words in bold and we even sang a hymn based on them at my ordination service as a pastor ("Knowing you Jesus" by Graham Kendrick). I wanted to know the person of Jesus better. I wanted to go deeper into who Jesus really is. I wanted to experience His power working through me in ministry to help others to know Him. But somehow, in the blindness of my flesh, I forgot or ignored the words in italics which told me how my Father in heaven would make it happen.
Then in summer 2018, I began to enter a fellowship of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. A very dark and difficult period in ministry led to a breakdown in my health which resulted in me being unable to continue serving as pastor of the church.
But in that downward journey into suffering, sorrow, rejection and loss, the Lord Jesus gave my family a very precious gift. A small number of faithful friends who stuck with us in the darkness. They kept meeting with us, listening and praying. In lament, tears, desperation. As we walked through our desert of sadness, we found this genuine Spiritual friendship to be an oasis where we could drink together from the water of life. As we shared in His suffering, Jesus gave us a new oneness with Himself and with those members of His body in a fellowship of faith, love and prayer.
As we shared in His suffering, Jesus gave us a new oneness with Himself and with those members of His body in a fellowship of faith, love and prayer.
I came to understand, value and desire the richness and beauty of the Spirit-filled fellowship which Paul describes and longs for in Romans 1:10-12 – “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some gift from the Spirit to make you strong - that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith.” The beauty, power and oneness of our union with Christ, means that when His saints meet together in faith and prayer, the Spirit of Jesus brings us the Person of Jesus to give us the strength and encouragement of His own life.
In our suffering, we all need to see and experience the love of Jesus embodied in a community of safety, compassion and honesty. And in 2019, another way in which the Lord began to do that was to lead me to the ministry of seeJesus. My initial contact with seeJesus was through reading the J-Curve book, listening to J-Curve podcasts, and watching a J-Curve talk.
The Spirit of Jesus used these resources to help me understand my dying with Christ and to give me hope of resurrection. And then in 2020, He led me into new fellowship with many brothers and sisters across the world in seeJesus online studies and cohorts. Through seeing Jesus in community, He has brought resurrection in my life and given me a new discipling mission with seeJesus.
Through seeing Jesus in community, He has brought resurrection in my life and given me a new discipling mission with seeJesus.
I love how Paul Miller explains the vital connection between discipleship and the fellowship of his suffering: “The gospel is embodied…God did not send a book; he sent his Son, who “tented among us” (John 1:14). Like Jesus, the Apostle Paul doesn’t just preach the gospel, he embodies it…You can’t just write books about Jesus’ dying and rising, you need to enter into it, in community." (from Why Not Simply Write Books? 7 Reasons seeJesus is a Mission).
As I have walked with suffering friends, the J-Curve has been a very helpful and powerful resource to keep us seeing, abiding and hoping in Jesus. I am excited to be able to lead a new J-Curve Online Study “United with Christ” which begins on Wednesday, 7 September (4pm ET / 9pm UK). I am praying for the Spirit of Jesus to draw together a group of his chosen people from across the world for rich fellowship and fruitful discipleship in Christ. We would love to see you blessed by our J-Curve study. You can register here on Eventbrite.
Author: Colin Millar
Colin Millar lives with his family in County Antrim, Ireland and is raising support for his new ministry as seeJesus European Coordinator.