As we get ready to pick up where we left off in Colossians, it is important to reflect for a moment. In chapter 1:21, we read, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled…” This truth, directed at a group of believers, was primarily Gentile. Through the work of Christ, they can now confidently know of their newfound relationship with God, who made them “holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (1:22). Little did they know that this incredible opportunity provided through the suffering of Christ had also resulted in Paul’s suffering. Paul is not seeking to elevate himself nor in some way minimize the cross; instead, he wants them to know it is all worth it.
“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up in my flesh what is lacking
in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church…”
We have all heard the saying, “No pain, no gain.” As one commentator observes, there are “paradoxes of the Christian faith.” One of those is the “positive meaning and purpose invested in the sufferings endured by Christians.” Paul spoke of his desire to “know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” (Philippians 3:10). Why? “We share in the many sufferings of Christ. In the same way, much comfort comes to us through Christ” (ETRV, 2nd Corinthians 1:5). This suffering is where sympathy is cultivated, enabling those in Christ to share the comfort they received with others. Then, there is what Peter writes concerning how Christians are to view the “fiery trials” they may face. He encourages them to “rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1st Peter 4:13). It will be worth it!
Paul states it is all worth it “for the sake of His [Christ’s] body, which is the church.” After that dramatic Damascus road experience (Acts 9), Paul’s task, in large part, would be proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles (Galatians 1:16). His ministry was all about helping the church to grow. As an apostle, God commissioned him “to equip his [Christ’s] people for works of service” with the hope that they attain “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, 13). This fullness was the reason for “which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God” (Colossians 1:25). The mystery he was given, which was once hidden but now revealed, was and is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom,
that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
The ETRV reads, “So we continue to tell people about Christ. We use all wisdom to counsel every person and teach every person. We are trying to bring everyone before God as people who have grown to be spiritually mature in Christ.” It is all about the gospel of Christ and the maturing of His church, His body. It is all worth it! “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Colossians 1:29). May our labor be the same as Paul’s, allowing Christ to work in and through each of us.