“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,”
On the surface when reading this verse, the question “what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” comes up. The answer to this question would be “nothing”. Christ’s sacrificial death was all that was needed to pay the price for our sins. His death atoned for the sins of the world.
Paul was not suffering to earn his salvation nor was he completing the sufferings Jesus experienced. Paul looked upon his suffering as something that would help him conform to the image of God. We too will go through trials and persecutions. And we’re reminded in James 1 that our suffering leads to perseverance which will lead us to maturity and completeness.
Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians while he was in prison This was during the time that Emperor Nero was killing Christians. Paul’s sufferings enabled him to comfort other persecuted believers with the legitimacy that comes through first hand experience.
Paul’s sufferings also pointed to his steadfast commitment to the cause of Christ, and his willingness to spread the gospel regardless of the cost. Such a faith is convicting. Is our faith that strong? Are we willing to suffer for the sake of the Church?
Suffering and sacrifice for someone else shows ones love and commitment. While we can draw inspiration from Paul’s suffering for Christ, we can draw comfort and joy from Christ’s suffering for us!
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions:
- In our day and age what would it look like for us to suffer for the cause of Christ?
- How might this question be answered by a believer in a country without our freedoms?
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you?
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?
Joe Sowell, Wednesday night Men’s group leader