Today we continue with the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, where Paul shares his heart with them about his ministry to the church at large, and to them in particular:
24 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, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.(Colossians 1:24-29, English Standard Version)
At first reading, this sounds anything but joyful, doesn’t it?
Sufferings… Afflictions… Toil… Struggles.
Not exactly the warm, heart-felt words that one would associate with the Advent season. And yet, they are so tied together with the Christmas story.
Ask any woman that has given birth about the birthing process, and she will most likely tell you about two things – the pain of delivery, and the joy of meeting their new child for the first time.
While Paul was not birthing a human, he was birthing a church. There was much pain and hardship in that birthing process. When you read the book of Acts, you will see the physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering that Paul endured to launch these new churches all over the region.
So what was the joy that Paul experienced?
Verse 27 sums it up so well:
“… Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
All the mystery of Messiah’s promise from long ago, the reality of Jesus living in His creation, providing the example of how to live , and now, Christ living in us, and one day we will spend eternity with Him in heaven.
That, dear friends, is joy.
In Dulci Jubilo,
(In Sweet Rejoicing),