Colossians 1:24 “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,”
The late Oswald Chambers once said, “The more a person knows of the inner life of God’s most mature saints, the more he sees what God’s purpose really is: to fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ”.
I believe the afflictions of Christ are as vast as God’s goodness.
Paul suffered immeasurably to bring the gospel to the gentile world showing that it costs something to be found faithful. Jesus was afflicted with great harm and abuse from the Jewish and Roman community for declaring to them His mission and position.
- Jesus’ mission was to die for the sins of mankind.
- Jesus’ position was God incarnate.
Paul was called to take this same position as a suffering servant and carry the gospel message to the nations. Much of the same form of treatment Jesus endured His people endure today.
Matthew 24:9-14 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
The quality of serving others is a process of self-sacrifice. It requires compassion to consider suffering for others well being. Jesus exemplified compassion on a regular basis. Matthew 14:14 “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” If the church is going to take the gospel into the world, the church has to have this same heart of compassion.
The magnitude of Christ’s afflictions has been focused on the cross, and with good reason. The level of suffering Jesus endured was beyond what most can even imagine. The suffering God endured began when man fell, it culminated at the cross, and will reach its conclusion at the end of the age.
Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
For death to spread throughout God’s creation, the very giver of life must have been heart broken. To see His Creation which was meant to reveal His glory, now being corrupted should give us reason for compassion toward our King, the embodiment of pure love and goodness. It’s no wonder His plan all along was to restore order to the chaos. When Jesus stepped down from His throne of unimaginable glory and assume the form of a man, He had to walk in humility.
Philippians 2:8 “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
When Jesus came to this earth He came in meekness. His strength and power were not diminished, He simply chose to become like one of us. Poor, destitute, hunted by murderers, falsely accused, misunderstood, and even charged with being of satan himself, Jesus embodied all the attributes of the suffering servant.
So, how do we fill up in our flesh, the afflictions of Christ?
- We become like Him.
- We take on His same passion for the world.
- We live for Him and not ourselves.
There is no greater honor you can bestow upon someone than to model your life after theirs. What we lack is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. The ways the Holy Spirit brings about growth, maturity and godly character is through suffering. Trials take us into the crucible to reshape us into the image of Christ. This process of forming Christ in us may not be easy, but in the end it yields abundant fruit.
Suffering with the afflictions of Christ brings forth spiritual fruit.
John 15:1-4 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
This “pruning”, is a necessary process for the Gardner to bring forth the goodness He originally intended in His people. God’s garden is the peaceful soil of righteousness, planted by the springs of life, yielding spiritual produce in season and out of season.
Are you growing in God’s garden? Do you suffering affliction because of your testimony or through the Spirit’s leading in your life?
If you are, you are a true son or daughter of God and you will experience great joy!
John 15:9-11 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
The joy realized when the Lord brings you through trial is to see His faithfulness through the entire ordeal, this strengthens your faith and builds wisdom. Jesus, suffered more than any human in existence, and yet as the cross stood before Him, He experienced joy.
Hebrews 12:2 “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Why was Jesus so joyful?
He knew the outcome would be great. The trial didn’t even compare to the reward and this is what we have to look forward to as well.
Are you going through great trial, hardship or despair? Remember, as you trust in the Lord to strengthen and guide you, your hope will be rewarded with the same joy as Jesus experienced.
He promises to never leave you nor forsake you.