Monday, November 01, 2010

Colossians - Suffering to make Christ Known (Pt3)

Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that  does not show itself in protection from suffering.... The love of God did not protect His own Son.... He will not necessarily protect us - not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process. – Elizabeth Elliot
It can seem too easy to think that our Christian lives were made for comfort. And perhaps we can sway to the other extreme and think that if we are suffering then it proves that we are ticking the right boxes. Yet Paul in Colossians 1:24 - 2:5 is quite clear that he is suffering not for the sake of suffering but to make Christ known. He is not living in comfortable christian bubbles nor suffering and grumbling about it. But he is making Christ known and is suffering because of it and through his suffering he is making Christ known.

1v24 "I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions" is a bit tricky and at first sight we think that Paul is saying that what Christ has done on the cross is not enough and he has to add to it. But we know from before that this is not the case!!
John Piper explains this well:
"What is lacking is that the infinite value of Christ's afflictions are not known in the world. They are still a mystery (hidden) to most peoples. And God's intention is that the mystery be revealed, extended to all the Gentiles. So the afflictions are lacking in the sense that they are not seen and known among the nations. They must be carried by ministers of the Word. And those ministers of the Word fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ by extending them to others."

So then what should we expect as Christians and how does that affect our sharing of the Gospel? I hope it gives us confidence. That for Jesus being honoured and shown to the nations is not just through amazing lunchbar talks, catchy sermons, loud worship times or fancy events. It will be when His church is humbled, mocked, beaten, dying to self and through that still loving each other and Jesus, clinging to Jesus and sharing his word no matter what.

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