“24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me… …to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”
For some reason (my money is on the fact He loves us), God seems to want us to participate in His work: praying, teaching, encouraging & serving one another. I suppose it is the same reason we love to see our young-adult children helping and protecting each other. They are not parenting FOR us, but they are working WITH us out of love for us and each other.
Let no one misunderstand, in v24, it is not that Paul thought thatJesus didn’t suffer enough, so he somehow has to. He is not saying Christ’s work on the cross is incomplete. Rather, he is saying that the work of full redemption is something we participate in. His suffering in prison is because Jesus called him to pour out his life to make sure these Colossians and others like them will have every opportunity to grow to maturity in Christ, NEVER GIVING UP MAKING PEOPLE INTO DISCIPLES WHO NEVER GIVE UP.
All that cost him everything he had.
We used to talk about people being “saved and stuck”. Not so much now, perhaps because it seems a bit judgemental. True enough. But the issue is still that we need to be constantly encouraging each other (and ourselves) not to settle for anything less than full maturity in Christ. What would Paul do? I bet he wouldn’t grumble or judge those who fall short. Instead He would “strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in [him].” He would never give up making people into disciples who never give up.
Oh and one more thing: don’t forget Paul was doing all this in the ultimate “lockdown” situation (prison)!
PRAYER: Lord, help me this week to do something to encourage and strengthen someone in their faith. Show me how to pray for them. Just as Paul did not let the prison walls stand in the way of your call on his life, help me to know just what I can do to build Your Kingdom in the current situation.