Reading Through The New Testament. September 8th, 2016. Colossians 1
Today’s reflection will be called: Burnout.
When I arrived on Canadian soil I had just come out of 4 years serving in a missions organization. I lived in a hostel, had roommates, drove vans, ran youth programs, took teams over seas, had to raise support etc. I owe so much to those 4 years. They helped me establish my faith, I met my wife in those 4 years… I loved those 4 years. But those 4 years also left me burnt out.
I couldn’t go into church services without a cynical attitude. I could pick apart any preachers theology. I judged many Christian gatherings as useless shows. Whenever I saw a nice church building I quietly accused them of not caring for the poor (not like I was doing too much for the poor at the time).
I was not in a good place. It took me many, many years to shed my cynicism that came from total exhaustion and a soul that felt neglected for too long.
When I read Colossians 1 I am awestruck that Paul doesn’t get cynical. He gets tired I’m sure. He feels the pain of ministry… but he never gets to the point of burn out, or the point of wanting to walk away.
How does he do this?
Like look at this line in verse 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.
I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions?
He rejoices in suffering?
It seems like the suffering isn’t making him cynical, it is doing the opposite, it is making him rejoice.
What the heck, man?
The difference between Paul and I is that Paul never loses sight of how beautiful the calling of Christ is. The privilege to know Jesus and to join him in his work on earth.
Paul never loses sight of the beauty of the church.
For that reason he rejoices that he is able to suffer to see the church grow.
He rejoices that he gets to share in Christ’s wounds for his church.
Cynicism is a symptom of losing sight of the beauty of the church. She is worth suffering for, because she is the bride the world has been waiting for.
Are you getting cynical?
Have you noticed that your heart is getting harder in areas? More judgmental?
Are we losing sight of the privilege it is to suffer for the church? To share in Christ’s suffering that we might also share in his glory?
Christ in you is the hope of glory.
Don’t let your hearts grow cynical. Protect your heart above else. Remember that Jesus isn’t giving up on His church — Paul didn’t either, and neither should we. May we rejoice in our suffering instead of growing cynical.