I was listening the great John Piper sermon last night “Doing Missions When Dying is Gain” and he came to Colossians 1:24 in which it says “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.” It is so challenging to read this! The only thing lacking in Christ’s suffering is the demonstration of it to people who have not seen it. And so John Piper avers that not only is suffering a consequence of evangelism, but that it is also the means to evangelism.
And I am left with some thought that I cannot sort out completely. How do you demonstrate suffering if you are rich? I am not saying that you do not suffer if you are rich, but to those who do not know your life or the gospel, how can they see that you have suffered for the sake of the gospel. I think that we suffer. It is mostly a physical and psychological suffering as well as some spiritual suffering as we battle our own sinfulness and satan’s barbs as he tries to discourage us. And I believe that this suffering is done for the sake of the gospel. But, . . . . I am not sure the people in town know it. It is not easily demonstrable suffering. I have a car, most people do not. When we do not have water in our house I keep buying pumps and hiring plumbers until I can get water to our tank. Most people cannot do that. My house has plaster on the interior walls, most people just have dirt walls and floors. We always make sure we have food. We filter our water to avoid waterborne illness. What do the people see in my life that makes them think, he has paid a price so that we can know this message that he is sharing, the gospel of Jesus Christ. How can we be rich and demonstrate the cross of Christ?