Whatever It Takes
"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." - Colossians 1:24 NIV Famed Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant, who played his entire 20-year career in Los Angeles once said, "I'll do whatever it takes to win games". In addition to his unprecedented commitment to one organization he went on to explain, "I'll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it's sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot." Talent and determination are impressive in their own right, but add selflessness to the list and it makes whatever talent a person has that much greater. You see what makes a teammate great versus merely good is that they're willing, like Kobe Bryant, to put self aside for the betterment of the team. This is what, "whatever it takes" truly requires. This is what Jesus did for humanity (Phil. 2:6). This is what the apostle Paul did for God's church. And this is what we're called to do every day of our lives! Paul's Journey began with a dramatic and humbling encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He had spent several years of his life persecuting the very church he now found himself called to be a part of. Moreover, although God declared that Paul would proclaim His name to the Gentiles, and their kings and to the people of Israel, God also said, "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." (Acts 9:16-16) Paul had been called to the team, he was told he'd serve a starring role but that in doing so he'd also suffer. The amazing part is, that when the time came for this to happen, Paul doesn't just accept it, scripture says he actually rejoices in it. Why? "for you" Paul declared. He suffered for his teammates.
In addition, a player also plays for their coach. They play in such a way as to be counted worthy of the person whose skill enabled them to teach others how to play. This is why Paul goes on to say, "I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions,". Paul is not asserting that Christ didn't suffer enough and that somehow he is catching up. No! Rather Paul is striving to be compared with his Savior, and he'll do whatever it takes to fulfill this call. He's also fully aware that the suffering he's faced was by design. Another way of phrasing Paul's statement here might be to say, "I'm striving to fill up my suffering to the expectation of my glorious Savior." Paul declares that his Coach has set the bar high and that he as a player wants to live up to that standard of greatness. Paul is declaring to do, "whatever it takes!" Questions to consider: Are you willing to do whatever it takes both for Christ and His church to impact the world? Since suffering for Jesus was both promised to Paul (Acts 9:16) and to all Christians (John 15:20), why are we surprised when suffering actually comes?