1 Colossians 1:24
24 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.
A well-known Bible teacher from the past, Dr. Vernon McGee, taught on this scripture and said that as a Christian, there are areas of Christ’s sufferings that we can never identify with. We cannot identify with his unique sufferings as a man (the Son of Man), his unique sufferings as the Son of God, and certainly not his unique sufferings as the sacrifice on the cross. But as Paul indicates in this verse, which was part of his letter to the church in Colosse, there are sufferings of Christ which we can partake in.
Firstly we can suffer for righteousness sake. 2 Timothy 3:12 says: “12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”. If we choose to identify ourselves with Jesus, and allow him to reign in our lives, there will be times where what the world is asking us to do, conflicts with the righteousness that is written on our hearts because of whom lives in our hearts – Jesus Christ.
Secondly, we can suffer as we identify with Christ. 1 John 4:17 says: “in this world we are like Jesus” and John 15:18 says 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. Now some Christians behave in ways that that make them a stench in the world, as they judge unrighteously, or act in superiority, rather than humble acts of love. This is not at all what these scriptures are referring to. After all, Jesus was called a “friend of the tax collector and the sinner” and he was the “light of the world”. What these scriptures are talking about is that there will be times where by just identifying with Christ, letting others know you are a Christian, you will be hated.
As a Christian Athlete we speak often about the accolades and the challenge of remaining a humble person in the midst of the praise. However, it is equally important to discuss the suffering that will follow if you choose to be a sold-out follower of Christ. Be encouraged by the words of godly men and women that have run the race before you.
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4: 12-13