“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the assembly;”
Paul is rejoicing in the fact that his sufferings are his fellowship with Christ and for the edification of the church. Paul is not the Saviour of the church but the one who builds it up and strengthens the believers to follow the Lord and only Him. Paul is an Apostle and his words are recorded in holy Scripture for our benefit as the people of God. This letter is not just for the lifting up and instruction of the Christians at Colosse, but for the whole, the Church of Jesus Christ. It is the Word of God.
The Apostle Paul rejoices to be counted worthy to suffer with Christ and to bear in his body the marks of that suffering. He speaks about making up the sufferings of Christ in his own body, as if he is fully identifying with the suffering Saviour. Christ suffered for us and bears in His body the scars that show how he suffered and the consequences of our sin. We rejoice in those sufferings of the Suffering Saviour, for they bought our freedom and released us from the penalty of our sins, the eternal death. It is not a shame to suffer for Christ, to be misunderstood and treated in a cruel way, as this is the pathway of every Christian. We do not “fit” the way of this present evil age, as our minds have been renewed and our souls are alive to God. The evil around us grieves us, because we belong to God and the Spirit who dwells within us witnesses with our spirit that we are children of the heavenly kingdom.
As we progress in the Christian life, the ways of this world become less and less attractive to us as the Holy Spirit refines our lives. Part of this is the road of suffering, and God permits us to suffer that we might lean heavily on Him and trust in the words that He says to us.
It is becoming increasingly hard to be part of anything in this world, as the corruption of sin spreads wider and becomes more virulent. It is affecting even the church of Christ and points to the coming end times. We need to be always on our guard about what we put into our minds and what we tolerate in our behaviour. God wants all of us, because He knows that is what is best for us. In the time of suffering we will look to Him and find that He is all we need. We too will identify with Christ and be full of joy to be counted worthy to suffer for His sake.