I love when the Holy Spirit leads me into truth.
When certain scriptures are unclear or don’t make sense, He guides me to dig deeper for that treasure of understanding.
I was studying Colossians the other day and came across this passage..
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 what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:24-27)
… in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions…
This puzzled me. When I think of the afflictions of Christ, I think completion; eternal atonement; it is finished!
The word ‘lacking’ is definitely not the first thought that comes to mind.
And so, I dig!
What is this lack which this scripture is talking about?
First, here is what scripture makes clear it is not:
Paul is not saying that the redemptive work of the cross is in any way incomplete. Nor is it needing anything added to it by something we can contribute. If you back up to Colossians 1:19-20 this is very clear (also see 1 John 2:2, Hebrews 9:13-15)
While doing some research on this verse I found this statement that I would say sums it up…
“What is lacking, then, in Christ’s afflictions is not propitiation but presentation.” – Sam Storms
If you continue reading the verse ” … in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions… so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God“.
One thing that Christ’s afflictions lacked, was going into all the world to preach His good news. To let the world know the spiritual blessings made accessible through His suffering.
He left us, His body, here in this world with the gospel and our great commission to go out and present it. To continue the ministry of reconciliation which He inaugurated through His earthly afflictions and resurrection.
“The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
2 Corinthians 5:17-19
All this leads me to ask myself some very important questions – Am I doing my share in filling up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions? Am I walking in faithful stewardship of this ministry of reconciliation?
Am I bearing my cross and loving the lost?
As His disciples we await in eager anticipation for His second coming, of which we do not know the day or hour. Yet, scripture seems to suggest that this Day awaits us, the church, to rise up and partake of this calling before making it’s glorious appearance.
In 2 Peter, Peter is writing to “those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours”. In discussing the coming of the day of the Lord he says..
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
His heart is that none will perish. He is patiently waiting for us to go out and present His gospel in all the earth.
The beautiful irony is that it is still His work which accomplishes all of this. All we need is to set our hearts on obedience.
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. (Colossians 1:28)
..for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)