“Now I rejoice in what was suffered 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” (Col. 1:24).
Have you ever wondered what this verse means? You’ll hear more about it in our sermon on Sunday, but I want to lead into it a bit, because many of us have probably struggled with the middle part – “…I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions…” Bill will tell you this has nothing to do with us somehow doing more than Jesus could have done for humanity – what it’s talking about are all the unique opportunities you and I will have to serve those around us in our time and places that Jesus never had the chance to do since He lived 2000+ years ago!
Now look at the last part of that verse – “… for the sake of his body, which is the church.” Christ’s saving and sanctifying work for the world has been done already – but there’s still more work to be done, and that’s our part, that’s the assignment of the Church. And how does “The Church” do its part? By each Christian allowing Jesus to live through him or her via the gifts God has given them. Who are these spiritual gifts designed to benefit? “All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church” (1Cor. 14:26b). Every one of you have been given a unique gift mix by God – that is undisputable, according to the Bible; what is up in the air is what you are currently doing with those gifts. Here are some possibilities:
a. You know them & are using them. (= Hooray!)
b. You know them & aren’t using them. (= Unfulfilling spiritual life)
c. You don’t know them & aren’t using them. (= We can help!)
d. You don’t know them but think you do & are trying anyway! (Bless you, but = Burnout…)I want to give you, dear reader, the opportunity to contribute something meaningful to the life of someone else, I want to help “equip [you] the saints, for ministry” – that’s why we’re hosting a special class for you to discover God’s gifts to you and why we’re handing out a list of volunteer opportunities towards which you can apply those gifts. Please understand -- I’m not begging you for help. God alone can build this church (despite our best efforts!). Instead, I’m trying to communicate to you a potentially life-transforming truth: When you exercise the gifts God has given you “for the sake of His body, which is the church,” you are fulfilling God’s purpose for your life. And oddly, when we fulfill God’s purposes for our lives, we ourselves feel fulfilled.