Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What Is Lacking

Colossians 1:24-25

Today is Fat Tuesday if you are in New Orleans or in some places where I have lived it is Paczki Day.  It is also known as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday in some parts of Europe.  This is the day before Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent.  Since many Christians fast during Lent, they have one last fling with the things that will no longer be in their diet for a time.  Perhaps it is to get rid of all the excess food before midnight, or perhaps it is just to have one more chance to enjoy food before fasting.  I just found it interesting as I have been looking at Paul's writing on suffering for the church that this would be on my mind as we are approaching Lent.  Please read Colossians 1:24-25.

The idea of fasting during Lent goes against the consumer and consumption mentality we find in America.  Instead of consuming more, many Christians are encouraged to consume less.  As I was thinking about this, I realized how well that went with the post I wrote yesterday.  Have you thought about what you could let go in order to follow Christ uninhibited?  Maybe you could use this season of Lent to give it a try.  Try to let go of something that may be taking time away from God.  I know that in some churches, people who are participating in some type of fast during Lent are encouraged to use that time to pray and listen to God.  Once again, this isn't necessarily suffering for the sake of the Gospel, but we are learning that when we let go of something that is so dear to us we can actually find more freedom in our walk with God.

Continuing on in these verses from yesterday, I want to look at a little phrase that stuck out at me.  "For I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for His body, the church."  This caught my attention because it was worded very differently in the NIV.  I looked it up in the Greek, and found it to be worded different there, and found that the ESV translated it a little closer to the wording from the Greek.  "I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church..."  It seems confusing, doesn't it?  "What is lacking in Christ's afflictions..."  What does that mean?  Since I am not a Greek scholar, I am not going to even attempt to say I understand this completely.  But, I will say this:  I do not believe that Paul thought that Christ's suffering and sacrifice was not adequate.  Rather, I think that Paul is referring to the fact that we, too are to be willing to sacrifice and even suffer so that others can know about the hope we have in Christ.  Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 16:24-25.

Maybe "what is lacking" is the fact that the church is to be following Christ in everything.  Instead of being focused on our own preferences and comfort in our churches, maybe we should be thinking about what God is calling the church to do.  When we think of it from the perspective of Christ's sufferings, our fast at Lent doesn't seem significant; however, I would disagree.  What we practice is what we become.  When we begin to practice obedience we become obedient.  So, when we practice lacking in something during Lent, we start to become a person who is willing to step away from their comfort as long as our attitude is that of a person who wants to change more like Christ.  So, instead of fasting with dread, practice lacking to become more like Christ.

What would God like you to practice lacking?

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesday.

9 comments:

  1. "What you could let go in order to follow Christ uninhibited?" This was just what I asked myself when preparing to observe Lent, which I never did before.
    I usually play a computer game before bedtime to get sleepy. That's not bad, but takes up time in which I could be closing the day with Him. So, that inhibits, gets in the way, and that's what's going.
    Plus, I want to stick my pinky toe into the practice of fasting, which Husband advises me to start slowly. So Tuesdays we're both doing that through the day, and that frees up the whole noon hour. Anticipating that increased freedom you're talking about, we're starting today, instead of stuffing ourselves and waiting till next Tuesday.
    Thank you for this thoughtful and encouraging post!

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    1. Sylvia, I just prayed that you would experience growth through this process and that you would experience God's strength to follow through. Blessings!

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  2. Great post to kick off Lent! "What we practice is what we become. When we begin to practice obedience we become obedient." Amen. That's why we need this Lenten season: to be mindful how we live, to examine our lives with the eyes of God. A thorough spring cleaning is in order! Thank you very much! Have a blessed lenten journey!

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    1. Thank you, Mari-Anna. It really is a spring cleaning of our hearts!

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  3. I am just finishing up a study on 1 Peter and Peter speaks so much of suffering and the glory that comes at the end. You are right. The world doesn't understand and seeks only comfort. Yet, the bible tells us to look to Christ for our example.

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    1. Yes! I think that is why we so many references to suffering in the New Testament - Christ is our example.

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  4. Yes! Our Lenten sacrifices help us keep God first in our lives. We can practice lacking anything that for us tends to hold more importance than God.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I love hearing your feedback.