- The Explore the Bible lesson for Oct. 24 focuses on Colossians 1:24-2:3.
On June 17, 2015, during a Bible study at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., a young white male visited the Bible study and fired shots at nine worshippers. As a result, all nine African Americans, including the pastor, were brutally killed that day.
Better known as Mother Emmanuel, the church was established in 1816 as one of the oldest African American churches in the south. Mother Emmanuel is known as a place to support advocates of anti-slavery, social change, Civil Rights marches and pulpit visits from Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King. The church also suffered natural disasters and a burning.
The pastor, state Senator Clementa Pickney, did not turn young Dylann Roof away to attend Bible study, but gladly invited him to join the group. Concealed on his person was a handgun that killed the pastor and eight parishioners, and injured another. Basically, Roof’s motivation to kill was that he hated black people. Since that tragic day, several churches of different ethnic groups have suffered mass shootings or burnings.
We are aware of the many churches under persecuted in other countries. However, I never thought I would see the American churches under persecution. Paul writes to young Timothy regarding church persecution in this way: “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:10-13).
Persecution is defined as hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs. The nine worshippers who were killed during Bible study at Mother Emmanuel have their names written in history. The good that came out of this tragedy are the relatives and parishioners willingness to forgive Dylann Roof. Today, people from all walks of life visit the church, some to seek forgiveness for their sins.
Suffering for All (Colossians 1:24-27)
What does it take to bring salvation to others? Are you willing to endure unjust suffering for the sake of introducing Christ to others? Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and tornadoes are examples of events that causes suffering. Other types of suffering are medical issues, car accidents and other unforeseen accidents beyond one’s control. Christians submit to unjust sufferings because of their love for Christ and because they willingly give up their personal rights for the sake of the gospel.
On many occasions, Jesus spoke truth to power when he would address the religious leaders regarding their treatment of the poor. Jesus stood up for justice because he came to proclaim good news to the poor (Luke 4:18). Peter and John stood up against the Jewish leaders when they demanded them to stop preaching about Jesus (Acts 4:1-14). We must accept the fact that suffering comes because of opposition and persecution. Consider it an honor to yield to the will of God, realizing the price the suffering Savior paid for our salvation. God wants to use every believer’s suffering so that others will see Christ in them.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). We are blessed to become servants and to make the word of God fully known (v. 25). God has a plan for every nation and ethnic group. The plan from the beginning of time was that the fulness of God through Christ would live in every believer. In what ways have you suffered or suffering for Christ?
Maturing in Christ (Colossians 1:29-2:3)
Paul’s goal for the Christians was to teach until everyone was complete in Christ. He proclaimed Jesus with all wisdom because he did not want them to have a form of godliness and denying the power (2 Timothy 3:5). Paul would never be satisfied with those who were not bearing fruit in their lives. Attending Bible study, Sunday school and worship services are necessary for the growth of the believer. However, participating in religious activities are not the primary goal toward salvation. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gif of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
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Paul pours out his heart to the Laodicea believers and lets them know how much he is struggling for them, encouraging them to join together in love in order to obtain the knowledge of Christ (Colossians 2:1, 2). The love of Christ is exhibited in the words of Paul to the believers because of his maturity in Christ and complete willingness to surrender to the will of God.
While making a final decision to surrender as an evangelist, Judson W. Van Deventer wrote “I Surrender All.” The refrain says:
I surrender all, I surrender all.
All to Thee my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
Margie Clayton is minister of education at Berean Tabernacle Baptist Church in Liberty, Texas.