Devotional # 150. 8/17/15. Colossians 1:24-29.
Intro. Last week we talked about our being reconciled from all the bad stuff we’ve done. How only Jesus, being perfect, could give us a gift like that! But then there was that one tiny little word “if“. We would be considered “blameless” – “if we continued in the faith” (v. 23). Then we discussed what it means “continuing in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and…not moved away from the hope of the gospel” but this week we’re going to dig in a little bit deeper and find our responsibility to share this with others. It’s funny, before I had even figured out exactly what I was going to have for today’s devotional I had a conversation with someone about this very thing! We were talking about how we make all sorts of excuses like, “I’m too busy” or “I need some me time” or even try and make ourselves believe it by saying, “I just need to focus more on my family”. And what we’re doing is turning our eyes in towards our self, not looking at others. Which only makes us more selfish. And our society helps us with this every minute of every day. Telling us we’re not happy, that we don’t have the right car or the right laptop or the right job or the right girlfriend or boyfriend or husband or wife. But, as I’ve often said, the quickest cure for depression or loneliness or selfishness is to help someone else. Today we’re going to talk about helping every other person with the most important thing they’ll ever need to hear. I think it’s worth you taking the next 10 minutes to read this.
v. 24. Paul says that he’s not just OK with suffering but he “rejoices” in it. Suffering for what? Suffering for you, the Christians, “the church”, the believers that, like him, aren’t perfect but serve a God who is. And we can misunderstand the next thing Paul says here if we don’t see that he’s reflected his “sufferings” right back to Jesus’s “sufferings.” It was Jesus who suffered when He didn’t have a home or even a pillow to call his own (Mt. 8:20, Luke 9:58), when He dealt with the money-changers making His Father’s house a den of thieves (Mt. 21:12-13) but, of course, most importantly His crucifixion (John 19). What we can misunderstand is when Paul says, “what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ” – he doesn’t mean there was anything missing from Christ’s “sufferings.” Instead Paul means he himself was lacking a complete understanding of what Christ went through and he gains an understanding through persecution and fasting (Source 1). A more understandable translation is: “…I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church” (NLT). So we can understand that, like Paul, when we go through persecution for our faith or fasting from food or water or something that we treat as a necessity, and spend time in spiritual pain in order to understand some of Jesus’ pain, then we will be reward for that with a deeper and better understanding of what Jesus did for us. That certainly helps us in our walk with Him but it is also “for the sake of His body, which is the church.” So Paul recognizes that many of the sufferings that we go through are for the greater good of “the church.” And to witness to people who don’t believe in God; but how does it benefit the church and non-Christians? Well, read on.
vv. 25-26. This is the second time that Paul says that he “became a minister” in the last few verses. The first time he said he “became a minister” was when he was encouraging us to “continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast” (v. 23). Now, here, he says that he also became a minister for the church. He goes on to say that it was his calling to reveal the mysteries of God. Paul was given the unique ministry of explaining how Jesus had forgiven sins. And not just explaining it but telling people why it mattered.
vv. 27-29. So why does it matter that we and Paul tell people about the things that used to be a mystery? Because to non-Christians, they still are a mystery and they need someone to shine that light on the answer they’re looking for. You know what’s weird? It’s “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” That’s the answer to their problem, the answer to the mystery! As amazing as it was that Jesus died on the cross for our sins it doesn’t matter if no one knows about it. And that’s why Jesus is such a Marketing genius! He didn’t tell us to hide our light under a basket, He told us to tell others.
Do we have to worry if we’re talking to the right age group? Do we worry if we know exactly what to say? Do we worry if we’ve read the most recent research on evolution or the most recent polls on how to share our faith? Actually no, I don’t really need to worry about that. Because “Him we preach” (v. 28). So we only preach Christ—nothing else. And what does the Bible assure us will happen if we “warn” every person and “teach” every person? We will have the joy of seeing “every person perfected in Jesus Christ”! You see if we are “in Christ” then it’s contagious. If it’s lived out and you’re excited about your faith, just like anything, people will be interested (Source 1). If we try anything but Christ they won’t be “perfected” (come to a saving knowledge of Him) but as long as we preach Him, He will do what He promises.
v. 29. Paul finishes the chapter by saying it’s “to this end” that God works through him “mightily.” To what “end”? To the idea that we don’t choose who gets to hear about Jesus but that we act like every person will come to believe in Jesus with their whole heart (v. 28). We don’t pick and choose who our lives and words affect but instead no matter how dirty, or young, or old or what color their skin is, we share Jesus with them!
Source 1: Sermon by Troy VanderWende, unsure of date.