Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
Strong’s Greek Dictionary #1577. ekklesia ek-klay-see’-ah from a compound of 1537 and a derivative of 2564; a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation:–assembly, church.
The Body of Christ
The Apostle Paul had such a clear understanding of his calling and place in Christ. His entire identity was Christ and, therefore, by extension, Christ’s Body, the Church. The Center, or Core of Paul’s life was outside of himself, and in Christ. When facing the prospects of death Paul declared: “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). This is the great challenge for us today. Do we have any sense of the mind of God for our lives, or are we absorbed in our own selfish ambitions, interests and development? By knowing the mind of God for our lives we are moved away from ourselves and into the Life of the Spirit and into the Church of the Living God.
The Afflictions of Christ
“And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesses in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me”. Acts 20:22-23.
We all know Christ suffered for us unto death and in His sufferings brought salvation to the world. The mystery of the Gospel is that Christ’s sufferings continue in His Body today. Not to obtain salvation (for that suffering was once for all time); but to proclaim salvation to the world. Paul’s declaration in Acts 20: 22-24 (see above) was that his desire was to “testify the gospel of the grace of God” and for that he was willing to endure “bonds and afflictions” for the sake of the gospel and the Body of Christ, the Church. Living the Gospel of salvation in Christ brings afflictions and these afflictions are the afflictions of Christ. Do we know this? Or are we confused by them? There are Scriptures to numerous to print that relate to this. Tribulations, persecutions, afflictions, trouble, hardships and sufferings are part of our life in Christ. By these we come to know Christ in “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil 3:10). We also rejoice in them and we should not be moved by them. (see II Cor. 1:1-11; I Peter 4:1-2; 12-14)
For the Sake of Christ, the Church
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” Matthew 24:9.
Have we moved past self and into Christ? If we say we love Christ, do we understand that Christ and His Body are inseparable? The Body of Christ is joined in Christ (see 1 Cor. 6:17 and Eph. 5:31-32). Everything we do affects the Body. We do not belong to ourselves, but we belong to Him who saved us and Redeemed us by His own blood. Everything is now for His sake alone.