God’s Word for You
Colossians 1:24 the afflictions of Christ
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, March 26, 2018
Paul’s Labor for the Church
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I fill up what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for the sake of his body, that is, the church,
Before we understand anything else here, we must understand what Paul means by “what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ.” The atonement for our sins was completed on the cross (John 19:30), and there is no longer any sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:18). But there are still afflictions to be suffered because the world hates Christ, and the world still spews out its hatred on his church: “All men will hate you because of me” (Luke 21:17). These “leftover sufferings” are ours to be borne. So we take up these crosses and carry them, not to atone for any sin or wrongdoing, but because we love our Savior, and we suffer so that his gospel may be flung to every corner of the globe.
The translation “fill up what is lacking” is a good one. The compound word antanapleróō has the prefix anti-, which can mean “against” but in contexts like this one means “to fill” over against something lacking or missing. When the Lord’s enemies spat their vitriol at him on the cross, it was part of his payment for our sins. When his enemies gnash and lash out at us, it is the devil’s death-throes. It is the savage thrashing of God’s enemy wounded and unable to be saved. If we are harmed by this thrashing and savagery, it is only to God’s glory.
So Paul says that if he can suffer something for the sake of the church, he rejoices, and so should we all. Most of us don’t recognize such opportunities. When I was in high school at the end of the 1970’s, one of my classmates asked me if I was a Jesus Freak. I had never heard that term before, and I asked someone (I think it was my dad) what it meant. I was no hippie, but if somebody wanted to call me that, I was okay with it; I was even honored. Are you a Jesus Freak? Do you respond to people as someone who trusts in the Lord for faith and forgiveness and the resurrection? Let your light shine. Cry out Hosanna as you wave your palm frond, and don’t be afraid to watch at the foot of the cross. Be like the women who took their spices to the tomb without worrying too much about how they were going to roll the stone away. Just have faith that God’s will, whatever it might be, will get done. Be honored to be a part of it.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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