Saturday, May 7, 2011


"Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?"

This is a question that the late Leonard Ravenhill posed in some of the sermons I've heard him preach.  And I must say, every time I ask myself this, I realize more and more that I am not living a lifestyle worthy of Christ.  I do not mean that there will ever be a time in which I have attained something that is worthy of Him, but I only mean to amplify my lack of effort. It is one thing to be giving 100% and not coming close, but it is something entirely different to be living the American lifestyle of comfort and calm when there is a world of lost people out there waiting for someone to go out and meet them where they are at.

This brings me to the topic of suffering. I have been learning that the gospel is spread most effectively through Christian suffering and am convinced that we do not see God working in power with the lost around us because we will not get out of our comfortable living rooms and lifestyle in order to see God's name worshiped by all men. Colossians 1:24 says,
"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."
Paul says, 'filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions'.  What did he mean by this?  We know he wasn't saying that Jesus' suffering was insufficient for our atonement and that he needed to add to it on behalf of the Colossians, so what did he mean?  John Piper makes a good point in his book 'Desiring God' concerning this when he directs us to Philippians chapter 2, where Paul tells the Philippians to 'receive him with gladness' because he almost died bringing Paul the gift the Philippians gave to him. Philippians 2: says, 'because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.'  And what exactly was lacking in the Philippians gift to Paul that Epaphroditus supplied?  The Philippians could not deliver the gift in person and this is what Epaphroditus did. And so, to bring it back to Colossians 1:24, how is Paul's sufferings filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions?  Well, Jesus Christ cannot physically suffer before the watching world any longer and this is what Paul is doing on behalf of Jesus Christ.  This is what we are all called to do before the watching world.  Suffer.  Let's give up this American lie that tells us we must be comfortable.  It is through suffering that the world will see our great devotion to Christ.  Let us give up our stuff so others around us can receive from us.  It is our suffering that will fill up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions.  In fact, we are called the body of Christ making all of our sufferings, His sufferings.  Let's be more obedient to Hebrews 13:13-14,
Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.

1 comment:

  1. Oh shoot. The comment just dissapeared, but I'll attempt this once more and see if it works. Your posts never fail to be very thought provoking and this one was no exception. I heard Paul Washer say something very similar to that Ravenhill quote once, and it really is a good question to ask ourselves. I understand & agree with what you're saying here, but what's the working out of this in our lives look like, especially if you're not among those called to preach the gospel in Iran (in reference to what you were talking about in th meeting Sunday)?