Broken to be a blessing
Sometimes, you read a verse of scripture and you think, Whaaat? What on earth could that mean? There was one of those verses in today’s reading from Colossians chapter 1. It’s verse 24; perhaps it made you wonder too. Let’s hear it again. St Paul says:
I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.
Paul actually says, ‘in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions…’
Hang on, I thought, the first time I read that years ago. Didn’t Jesus die for the whole world on the cross? Didn’t he bear our sins on the cross? Wasn’t it a ‘perfect sacrifice’ for sin? How could there be anything ‘lacking in his afflictions’? Has Paul gone nuts? Perhaps he has! Read a few verses earlier, and you’ll see that Paul says this:
through [Christ] God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Here, Paul says that on the cross God reconciled all things everywhere to himself through Jesus. Because of Jesus, we are at peace with God. We’re not partly at peace, we’re not half-reconciled to God. We are wholly at peace with God, we are fully reconciled, we are God’s beloved sons and daughters, we have a place in God’s loving heart. We are fully alive, and why? Because we been drawn into the grace-full, eternal, loving dance of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Notice that all these things are true whether or not we feel them to be true. So what on earth could possibly be ‘“lacking” in Christ’s afflictions’?
Let’s hold that question, while we look at something we’ll be doing soon.