Like the Colossians, we typically express a “Jesus and …” mentality by thinking that in order to be happy and secure, we need other things in addition to obedience to Jesus. We don’t reject Jesus, of course. But to really make life work, we think we need other things as well. And the primary place we express this “Jesus and …” mentality is in relation to money.
As I was growing up, the image of Jesus I always had in my mind was this sad, jobless guy with tears in his eyes. I’m not sure where we get an image like that. Not from the Bible. Jesus was a carpenter, which means he would have been more rugged and buff than soft and flowy. But more important than his earthly profession is the way Jesus is depicted in Revelation.
Streams from both of these regions flowed down into pools outside of Laodicea, where they combined to form stagnant ponds of tepid water—neither hot (and good for bathing) nor cold (and good for drinking). Either hot or cold is good but lukewarm is no good for anybody.
“Commission” means “individual assignment.” It is something given specifically to each of us in God’s family. God doesn’t just have this great, big, global mission that he assigns to the church at large. He also has an individual assignment—a commission—for you. He has a purpose for your time, talents, and treasures in the church. And if you don’t do it, it won’t get done.
I’m sure Paul loved all the physical comforts of the world, just like the rest of us, but here he is modeling for us one of the most profound ways we will live out our salvation: joyful sacrifice. Joyful sacrifice is giving up something you love for something you love even more. Paul loved seeing people come to Christ even more than he loved his personal freedoms or personal comfort.
What could possibly be lacking in Christ’s afflictions? Didn’t Jesus say from the cross, “It is finished”? Hasn’t he done everything necessary to save us? How did Paul’s suffering and sacrifice for the gospel have any effect on what Jesus has already done for us?