Aloha Friday Message – July 19, 2019 – Say what?

1929AFC071919 – Say what?

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Colossians 1:24-26 24 I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. 25 I became its servant according to God’s commission* that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints.

*οἰκονομίαν (oikonomia) {oy-kon-om-ee’-ah} → management of a household; more accurately, a stewardship,  a position of management (administration) by which a person looks after another’s business and resources.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we will look at another of those passages that is easily skipped over. What could the Apostle Paul possibly be telling the people of Colossae (Greek: Κολοσσαί), and why? How can he be “completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions?” He states he is the servant of the Church, a steward of the Gospel for their benefit. We will study this passage in the tone of the readings for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Hospitality as one of the four pillars of Stewardship.

The Old Testament reading is from Genesis 18:1-10. It is the story of three visitors – Angels of God (or perhaps even Jesus was there???) – and Abraham invites them to stay awhile and be refreshed by him – he will bathe their feet (are you remembering The Last Supper?) and get them a snack (about 5 gallons of bread dough, a fattened calf, and a batch of cheese!) before they continue their travels. They are on their way to Sodom and Gomorrah to see how bad things really are there. Two angels continue on the road, The Lord tarries with Abraham as Abraham pleads for the lives of the people there. This story is often remembered in Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

The Gospel is Luke 10:38-42 the story of Mary and Martha. Martha is fussing about in the kitchen – trying to demonstrate her capacity for hospitality – and her sister Mary is just sitting at Jesus’ feet, doting on him and what he is saying. Martha wants Jesus to scold Mary and make her help with the preparations; but Jesus says Mary has made the wiser choice and “will not be deprived of it.” Hospitality is important, and has its place, but there are other things that are more important – listening to The Word for example.

The Apostle Paul mentions hospitality, or the quality of being hospitable, especially in reference to the qualifications for leaders of the Church which he describes as The Body of Christ. As you can see by our illustration here, hospitality is part of the scope of Stewardship; the other parts are Prayer, Formation (learning about God’s plan), and Service (helping the Body of Christ as well as others outside the Church). The Apostle Paul states he has received from the Lord a “commission,” an assignment to spread the Gospel.

In this passage the Apostle Paul is addressing a congregation he has never met, and so he expresses his responsibility and qualifications for the work he is doing on their behalf. As he presents this information, he indicates that the Master in this economy of Faith is God inasmuch as it is God who is providing the resources for our salvation. As part of that economy to be managed, God assigned the responsibility of conveying the Gospel to the gentiles to the Apostle Paul. He describes how that assignment is carried out in 1 Corinthians 9:17 17 If I were volunteering my services of my own free will, then the Lord would give me a special reward; but that is not the situation, for God has picked me out and given me this sacred trust*, and I have no choice. Living Bible (TLB)[i] *This sacred trust is the stewardship of the Gospel – to deliver it freely without expecting a return, to prayerfully lead the community of faith, to contribute to their proper and thorough knowledge of the Truth of the Gospel, and to serve God by serving those whom God has called. It is this service to which the Apostle Paul willing gives his whole life – even the great sufferings (which Jesus had promised him at the time of his conversion) he endured for the sake of the Gospel. Here we see a man who does not count the cost of fellowship and service. He simply gives whatever is needed. In the NIV (New International Version) it is expressed this way: Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

We’ve all heard – and perhaps even used – the expression “offering it up to the Lord,” or “joining my suffering with the sufferings of Christ.” The Apostle Paul is suffering for those who would not be able to bear the suffering promised to all who follow Jesus. His compassion for the people in Colossae, whom he had never met, is so closely bound to the afflictions of Christ and the Church that he gladly and willingly steps in to suffer on behalf of others. You’ll find a very clear explanation of this kind of suffering in 1 Peter 4:12-19 which ends with this statement: 19 Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good. (Please use that link to see this in context.)

The Apostle Paul is NOT saying that Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross was incomplete (as some will try to tell you); he is saying that the Church, the Body of Christ, has much suffering to do, and he is willing to take on more than his share because Jesus commissioned – appointed, authorized, and contractually commanded – that he do so. As a Steward, the Apostle Paul gets my vote for being an exceptional example of the entire concept of Stewardship. When we first read (of skim over?) this passage, our hearts and minds may hear the faint echo of disbelief saying, “Say what?” Now, perhaps, when we hear this we will better understand that being a good Steward means more than just managing and sharing our Time, Capabilities, and Worldly Wealth. It means doing everything in our power, and beyond (for with God all things are possible ← Check it out!) for your sake. The Apostle Paul would have been familiar with the concept of the “Messianic Woes,” the sufferings in the end times that prepare the World for the Advent of the Kingdom of God. He willingly submitted to suffering those preparatory disruptions in his own flesh – marked with the wounds of Christ (certainly at least the scars of multiple scourgings and perhaps even the stigmata) – for the sake of people he never met – you and me, for example.

     So therefore Beloved, Rejoice! God created you with a purpose and is absolutely thrilled when he sees you devoted to Him and to His purpose. This is HIS WORLD (↔ Music Link) after all! That is certainly a cause for great rejoicing. He will surely look with favor on his devoted servants who willing take on the commission to be Stewards of the Gospel.

BONUS MUSIC LINK!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

[i] Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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