I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.
2:1 I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. 2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. 3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. 5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. – Colossians 1:24-2:5 [New Living Translation]
Maybe you’ve gone the extra mile. Or two. You’ve forgiven an offence for the 49th time (7X7). A slight from someone you love has been overlooked, even though it has hit that very tender spot in your heart. Yet again. A loan has been forgiven only to be replaced by a new and larger one. You’ve cleaned up after your husband for the 1000th time. Or listened for hours upon hours to your wife. Or let your son’s insolence not get the better of you. Or nodded again as your daughter spun her made-up tale of woe.
Sometimes we go an extra two or three miles for those we love. Paul went even beyond that not just because he loved the people of Colossae (whom he had not even seen face to face). He did that because of Christ’s love to him. He did it because he realized just how incredibly superior Jesus was compared with any other man. He was made to realize that Jesus was the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In Christ are the riches of the glory of the mystery that Christ is in us and is the hope of true glory.
But Paul speaks a lot about himself. He writes of his suffering. He tells them of his struggles. He mentions the pressure he’s under as he brings the Gospel message to the people in Colossae and Laodicea. He makes no attempt to hide his suffering or whitewash the severe trials he has undergone. He does this to encourage these people. He does that to encourage us. If it was worth the extent of suffering that Paul had to endure in order to get the Gospel to them, surely this message is valuable. If he is willing to go to such great lengths to bring the message of Jesus to them, that message must surely be of vital importance.
We might want to make a hero of Paul. Surely he would serve well as a hero of the faith. His life and complete dedication to spreading the gospel are heroic and emulatable. Sometimes Paul does seem to dance on the fine line of showing how important the message is and of showing how dedicated he is to delivering that message. But these words here point me toward believing that Paul is making the point of how far he has gone not so that they would trust him. He’s doing this to point them to the One whose message he is carrying. He’s doing it to encourage hearts, to knit people together, and to point them toward all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge centered in Jesus. What more can any hero do?