The man who gazes upon and contemplates day by day the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, and who has caught the glow of the reality that the Lord is not a theory but an indwelling power and force in his life, is as a mirror reflecting the glory of the Lord.~Alan Redpath
He is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister… 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, 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, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints. 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. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me. ~Paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Colossians 1
Oh beloved, it is true. We are powerful beyond measure. We have been made one with the Preeminent King of All Creation. And while this is difficult to comprehend, it is something that is both true positionally, and can become our experience in our lives now.
But there is something through which we must pass. We must die. And the suffering about which Paul speaks in the passage, has nothing to with the ceasing of a heartbeat or brain function. The suffering Paul speaks of is exceedingly more painful than any simple thing like this.
No, the death in this passage, and many others like them in the New Testament, is the death of our ego. It is the reckoning dead our flesh and the screaming demands it makes in trying to feed itself. It is a suffering far beyond physical torture.
Yes, Paul went through many physical and circumstantial problems. But these paled in comparison to the deeper suffering he went through. Through the years, he was rejected by his former colleagues in Judaism, G_d changed his name from Saul (the name of the first king of Israel) to Paul (a name that means ‘little’), the years drove his unlearning of prideful adherence to a Law that actually condemned him, and he was buffeted by demonic forces due to the amazing insights he had been given regarding heaven and the ages to come (cf. 2 Corinthians 12).
But the suffering is also more. Much more. Mostly, the suffering of which Paul speaks is the pouring out of our lives in the very same way that Jesus did for us. As one writer has put it, “In short, what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ is our participation in those sufferings as His Mystical Body” (the members of His Church) in this world. It was not that Jesus suffering was inadequate. Quite the opposite. It was so large, so immense, that it has the potential to be presented to the rest of the world – through us.
Can we see it? In abandoning self, in allowing ourselves to be made less, and in entering into the very sufferings of Christ, we are united with Him and become His very hands and feet and eyes and presence in this world. And people like this (and hopefully, some of us are becoming like this) become invisible to the “channels” the world watches on its computers and media and televisions.
But, the influence they (and hopefully, some of us too) wield is so large as to make large swaths of eternity different and better through our presentation of the very sufferings of Christ to those with whom we have contact. We have first died to our enormous egos, but in disappearing, we have waxed so large that who we really are in Him cannot be seen with physical eyes.
So, are you feeling the heat of G_d breaking down your ego? Does this make you afraid that you will have nothing left with which to serve G_d? Don’t. G_d doesn’t need your ego (or this fool of a writer’s either). But, He does need your entire life to present His very Self to the world. Would you be willing to become nothing that you might become everything?
Tonight is your night beloved. Time to suffer that He might be Himself – The King of All Creation – through you.
Written by Makala Doulos: Makala is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.
Daily Quote: “Hell is, in a certain sense, heaven devoid of Christ. In hell, you get what you want . . . and discover that it leaves you utterly unsatisfied. In heaven, all your wants are sanctified and reduced down to One singular desire: Christ.” ~Ben Zornes
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
17 Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19 The Lord God[a] is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.