Making sense of a hard passage

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.” Colossians 1:24

‘Christ has prepared a love offering for the world by suffering and dying for sinners. It is full and lacking in nothing – except one thing, a personal presentation by Christ himself to the nations of the world and the people of your workplace…

What this means, I think, is that God intends for the afflictions of Christ to be presented to the world through the afflictions of his people. God really means for the body of Christ, the church, to experience some of the suffering he experienced so that when we offer the Christ of the cross to people, they see the Christ of the cross in us. We are to make the afflictions of Christ real for people by the afflictions we experience in offering him to them, and living the life of love he lived…

The point is that taking the gospel to people (across the office or across the ocean) ordinarily requires sacrificing and suffering, a losing of life or a denying of self. This is the way Christ means for his saving sufferings to be taken to the world, through the sufferings of people. Suffering is God’s strategy for completing the Great Commission. We have plenty of time in eternity to enjoy the benefits.’

John Piper, ‘Filling Up What is Lacking in Christ’s Afflictions’, @ desiringgod.org

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