Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. (Colossians 1:24)

In this generation the common man of the day has an extremely low view of the church. 

Men know little to nothing about suffering on the behalf of the church.  Pansies who call themselves men flee from churches everyday to sit in places of secret to hurl insults towards the church of the living God. 

 Countless are the numbers of people who sit in living rooms sipping coffee and talking about a few bible verses, praying, and talking about the errors of the local Church.  These groups have no authority figure, no communion, no baptismal waters, and no accountability to hold them in check.  Sadly, some of them actually call themselves a Church. 

The man Paul has a whole different attitude.  Paul sits in prison with shackles upon his wrist with a burdened heart and tear-filled eyes on behalf of the church at Colossae.  According to Alexander Maclaren, “This man, with the chain on his wrist, and the iron entering into his soul, with his life in danger, and all the future uncertain, can say, ‘Now, I rejoice.’  This bird sings in a darkened cage.” 

Paul understood what it meant to suffer on behalf of the body of Christ and he did it well.  As Lightfoot has commented, “The Church is built up by repeated acts of self-denial in successive individuals and successive generations.  They continue the work which Christ began.”  Paul felt most united to Christ when suffering on His behalf for the Church. 

 The union between Christ and His body is so real that when one suffers, so does the other.  “In all their affliction he was afflicted” (Is. 63:9), “The sufferings of Christ abound in us” (2 Cor. 1:5), “The fellowship of [Christ] sufferings” (Phil. 3:10), and in Acts 9:4-5 where Paul was persecuting the Church Jesus said, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting Me?”

Dearly beloved, a church is where the sacraments are rightly ministered and the Word is rightly preached.  The church is the body of Christ and Christ is the head.  The church has intrinsic value and is to be loved by those who love Christ.  The love of Christ and the Church has been the testimony of the martyrs before us. 

Hugh Latimer said to Ridley on the day of their burning, “Be of good cheer, Master Ridley.  By the grace of God we’ll light a candle in England today that shall never be put out!”  Do you love Christ and the Church?  Serve them well.

J. Randall Easter, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Briar, Azle, TX.
II Timothy 2:19
“He who sells cheapest shall have most customers; the devil knows that it is a cheap and easy doctrine which pleases the flesh, and he doubts not but he shall have customers enough.” (Thomas Watson)

See also: