For years I have struggled to understand what Paul meant in Colossians 1:24: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church in filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Certainly, what Christ suffered was not insufficient in any way. He fully completed His mission including the required suffering. What is lacking is our own suffering as part of the Body of Christ. Just as Christ suffered for us, we must suffer for His sake (Phil. 1:29). He has done His part. Now it is our turn.
Turn the Other Cheek
In My Utmost for His Highest (July 14) Oswald Chambers offers a clear example of how we are to “do our share” and it is found in the Sermon on the Mount. We are familiar with the “turn the other cheek” passage, but his example hits so close to home that we can’t get away with generalizing it so we can ignore it. He says that when we are insulted we must not only not resent it, but take the opportunity to manifest Christ. It’s not about imitating Christ, doing what He would do. That’s trying to manage the flesh which is impossible. It’s all about allowing Christ to do the responding as we walk in the Spirit. He will respond with a sweetness that transcends human reason.
A Better Way
Every time we are treated unjustly, and we insist on our rights, we hurt Jesus. Think about it. His “mission” is to show the world another way—a far better way to fill our deepest needs. Instead of allowing us to defend ourselves, Jesus wants to reveal Himself to a hurting world. Every time we respond our way to an injustice, we not only prevent Jesus from doing things His way; we hurt Him. We can prevent Him from this unnecessary hurt by taking the blow ourselves by responding with His love instead of insisting on our rights or setting the record straight
We may think we must defend our reputation and our honor, but it’s Jesus’ honor that is at stake. If Christ is really our life as we claim (Phil. 1:21), then we have willingly become His bond-slave. We are to look out for His interests, including His reputation. Life is full of injustice. If we enjoy feeling sorry for ourselves, we can easily find examples to justify our pathetic lifestyle. This, however, is, to say the least, unbecoming of a Christian. Considering what Christ has already done for us and given to us, no Christian should ever be a sympathy seeker. Imagine how this must hurt Jesus.
In these days when Jesus is purging and building His Church, we must be about His business which includes revealing Him to a lost world. He gives us plenty of opportunities to do just that, and they often include pain on our part. Let’s be prepared so that when insults and in justices come, we will seize the opportunity to manifest Christ.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
I had been teaching my three-year-old daughter, Caitlin, the Lord’s Prayer for several evenings at bedtime. She would repeat after me the lines from the prayer. Finally, she decided to go solo. I listened with pride as she carefully enunciated each word, right up to the end of the prayer: “Lead us not into temptation,” she prayed, “but deliver us from E-mail. Amen
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