Summary: Suffering for Christ
Colossians 1: 24-25 Cornerstone Baptist Church May 20, 2007
A bar of steel is worth just a few dollars.
When it is forged into a set of wrenches, it is worth approximately $100.
If that same bar of steel is made into many needles, it can be worth several hundred dollars.
If it is made into fine surgical instruments, it is worth thousands of dollars.
If it is made into tiny springs that are placed into delicate mechanisms, it can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
But consider the process of change that piece of steel undergoes as it becomes something more valuable.
It is handled, it is hammered, it is forged through a fire.
It is beaten, pounded and polished to become something of greater value.
It is the same with people: Those who suffer most are the ones who are capable of yielding the most.
Through the difficulties of suffering and pain, God can get the most out of us.
Some of the world’s greatest and most useful people have suffered a physical handicap. Helen Keller was not born blind and deaf, but at nineteen months of age she came down with an illness that caused it.
She went on to accomplish much in life that blessed those around her.
On September 14, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Helen Keller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the United States’ highest civilian honors.
I have heard Joni Eareckson Tada say many times that God has used her handicap for His glory as He enabled her to triumph through her affliction.
From today’s text in Colossians 1:24-25, I want to point out several things to you:
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.  I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness--
First, the Apostle Paul suffered.
In fact, Paul suffered very much for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus.
He shared some facts with us about that suffering in 2 Cor. 11:23-28
…… I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,  I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.  Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
In spite of such suffering for the gospel…in spite of such suffering because of his concern for the church….Paul could still say in Col. 1:24……….
Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you………
The church today needs people like Paul….servants who are willing to suffer for the gospel…..servants who are willing to suffer for the church….which is the body of Christ. Paul was a man who would go to any length of suffering in order to reach and grow people for Jesus.
He gave it his all: he suffered much….and did so willingly for the cause of Christ and His church……That is the message of verse 24.
Secondly, then,… we can expect to suffer.
I believe God also wants us to “fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions.”
When Jesus was here on earth, He loved the church and gave Himself for it.
He gave His heart and even His life for the church.
Not for some church building….but for God’s people.
Jesus served, labored, and suffered to the point of exhaustion to reach and minister to people.
He did whatever was necessary in order to build up the church.
That is the pattern He left for all those who would follow after Him.
When He left the earth, He expected believers to follow in His steps, to give their lives to suffer whatever is necessary to reach and minister to people.
That’s what cross-bearing is all about.
Jesus expects every believer to sacrifice for the church, to suffer for the church: to complete the church, to bring it to fruition…to its full measure; to fill it up to the fulness of His will.