24Now 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.In the previous passage, Paul proclaims the supremacy of Christ. Jesus is supreme because he is: (1) the image of the invisible God; (2) firstborn over all creation; (3) the creator and sustainer of the universe; (4) the head of the church; (5) that all God’s fullness dwell in him; (6) the reconciler, as he reconcile all things to himself. We who put our faith in Christ needs no other stuff that should be added to our faith because Christ is sufficient.
25I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.
27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
29To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
This passage starts with the word "now" denoting that he is transitioning to other important practical implications of those truths. As we study Colossians 1:24-29 this morning, I hope that we will get a clear understanding of what God is calling us to do individually and as a church!
We are commissioned to suffer for the church (v. 24)
As we read verse 24, Paul states something that, in my opinion, are rather questionable. Isn’t it strange that Paul is rejoicing in his suffering and he is suffering for the sake of others? As Christians, we should have the attitude of Paul. He is rejoicing because he considers it a privilege to suffer for Christ and his body—the church. We should keep in mind that Paul was in prison while writing this letter to the Colossians and in this instance he was actually experiencing some kind of suffering.
This is an important truth we should know, we cannot serve without sacrifice. If we are in a position where we are not sacrificing, we are not serving. Jesus calls us to sacrifice, He calls us to serve. He calls us to suffer.
Paul understood this concept very clearly. Notice he says that He is suffering for their sake and he is doing his share ob behalf of His (Jesus) body, the church. Paul was called to a suffering we may never experience, but the fact of the matter is this, we must have to suffer to serve the church, to serve our fellow believers.
We need to understand that when we give our lives to Jesus. We are called to sacrifice time, talents and treasures for Jesus and for His church for our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is easy to look at the church and ask what they are going to do for me. We don’t see the fact that we are called to sacrificially contribute to the ministry of this church. Paul endured many hardships for the cause of Christ.
In redemption, Jesus did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is up to us to now sacrifice and serve. Paul is not implying that Jesus sacrifice was insufficient is some way, but that further progress of the gospel would require sacrifice on our part. What sacrifices have you made for Jesus? If we are not willing to sacrifice, the work of the church will never get off the ground.
We are Commissioned to Proclaim the Gospel (25-27)
In verses 25-27 we see the another calling for the church and for each one of us who are a part of the body of Christ. Paul was called specifically to be a minister of the gospel according to verse 25. He was called to carry out the preaching of the word.
Usually we think that only the Pastors are commissioned to preach the Word of God. Do you realize we are all called to be ministers of the word? You may not be the type of person who will stand behind the pulpit, but at one time or another we are called to tell something about our faith. We may be required to explain the gospel in few words.
You may not be a preacher but the way we live your life is another way of preaching the gospel. As St. Francis of Assisi says: “We should preach the gospel and if necessary use words.” We need to realize this: we are all called to proclaim God’s word to lost people. You will be able to impact people that I might never be able to reach. In order to proclaim the Gospel, we need to know it. We need to know how to share our faith because we have the duty and privilege of telling others about Jesus. Here are two reasons:
In verse 26 we are told that the message was hidden from past generations. Why was it called a mystery? It was a mystery because it is something that God has not yet revealed. The Old Testament is not a full revelation of God to the church. The mystery was that all people will be saved even those who are considered outsiders have given the same opportunity for salvation just like his chosen people.
A false teaching had been causing confusion among the Colossians Christians. The false teachers were teaching that the secret mystery was available only to the few privileged people and it was not available to the ordinary Christians. Paul wrote and told them that the mystery was fully made known through Jesus Christ.
The mystery which God wanted us all to know is the fact that Christ indwells the believers. That because of this fact we have the hope and assurance of future glory. We have the privilege of proclaiming this wonderful truth to those who do not know it! We don’t need to have special training to do this. Christ in us makes us Christ-like in this life and allows us to share in His glory at the Second Coming!
We are commissioned to help others to Grow in Christ (28)
I believe the question we need to ask ourselves is I am helping anybody to grow in Christ? Or am I a stumbling block to the other’s growth. How do I help others to grow in Christ?
We help others to grow in Christ by proclaiming to them who Jesus Christ is. We should make sure that we are teaching them the right things about Jesus. When we are trying to win people, we should win them to Jesus Christ alone. Not to the church, activities or program. If we are going to help people grow in Christ, it must be Christ we are proclaiming to them. We must make sure when we give advice and help that we are giving them 100% Jesus as much as we can.
We help one another to grow by admonishing one another. To admonish means to “warn, encourage, stimulate.” There are times when we will need to warn people of the consequences of rejecting Jesus or the consequences of being disobedient to Him. Other times we will need to encourage people to hold fast, to hang on for dear life. There are other times when we will need to stimulate their thinking concerning Jesus and what they are doing.
We help one another to grow by teaching with all wisdom. This means that we are to make sure we are not only imparting knowledge, but that we are also teaching people how to apply the principles of scripture in their lives. Christian life is based on the truth of the Scripture. We live what we believe. We should be ready to teach people what God wants from his children.
The warning and teaching always had one goal in mind: so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. God will ask us to have a presentation someday. We will be required to present every person who comes under our influence to have a living in union with Christ. We have the responsibility to make them complete, full grown, and perfectly instructed in doctrine, faith, and practice. Believers are not to remain like babies in the faith, easily led away by something new.
Verse 28 tells us that we are to present every person complete or perfect in Christ. The church has to goal of reaching people and then teaching them how to be pleasing to God. WE are all called to help one another grow. It is sad to see that many believers do not want to stay in the church because it seems that nobody is there to help them grow, we need to be here for one another. You have heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a church to raise a Christian.
We are commissioned to rely on God’s power (29)
How are we going to carry out this special calling on our own? We are not; we are called to rely on the power of Jesus! Notice Paul said he was laboring and striving. But he was laboring and striving according to Jesus power which was working mightily within him! Paul labored and strived to help make everyone complete in Christ.
I believe it is easy to forget that message when we forget God’s purpose for us and for the church. We have a big job ahead of us, the job of bringing people to Jesus and then helping them grow. If we try to do these things in our own power, we are doomed to failure. God is working within us, are you aware of the power that is available to you. Through Christ, we can do all things!
God has commissioned us to do something special for him and his church. This is a calling for every one of us, nobody is exempted. We are commissioned to: Serve sacrificially. Proclaim the gospel, help others grow in Christ and rely on the power of Jesus within us. God called you for a special purpose, are you ready to fulfill that purpose.