Preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God is going to involve some suffering. Picking up a cross and following Jesus, as our Savior demands, is certainly a call to suffering. It’s a sharing in the sufferings of Christ, a participation in what he endured. It makes us more like him. It shapes us and molds us to be more like him.
Jesus’ afflictions are not complete. They’re not done. They’re not finished. They are “lacking.” The sufferings of the Christ are still being carried out in those of us who follow him.
“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.”
The Colossians 1:24-29 context in which we find this sentence is all about preaching — proclaiming the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. Preachers, I think, are called to die. To die to self, to die to the world, to die to any other way of life, to model in a “the-medium-is-the-message” kind of way what it looks like to live in Christ. To take on the sufferings, to bear the burdens, to carry the weight. And to do it for the sake of the Church.
There’s a teenager in your church who will come alive if you’ll only die for him. There’s an older woman in your congregation who will blossom like never before if you’ll die for her. There’s a sick brother, a depressed sister, a spiritually immature Christian, a stubborn believer, a wounded soul, a damaged disciple who has no hope of living unless someone dies for him or her.
I need to be reminded of this constantly. My role as a proclaimer of the Good News is to preach it and live it the way Christ did. Even with the sufferings. Accepting the sufferings. Embracing the sufferings. Welcoming them as a way of joining my Lord in his mission to redeem the world.
“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 have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the Word of God in its fullness — the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” ~Colossians 1:24-29.
Today’s #60 in our Red Ribbon Review countdown to Cowboys season is a downer. Twelve players have worn #60 in Cowboys history. And it’s a less than stellar group. The noteables among them include the likes of Jackie Burkett, Ben Noll, Lee Roy Caffey, and Dean Hamel. You don’t remember them. You can’t tell me what position they played or when. This is a tough group. Only two of these 12 played for Dallas longer than two seasons. One of them is the second-best #60 ever to play for the Cowboys. And he is defensive lineman Don Smerek.
(I can’t even find a picture of the guy. All I’ve got for you are these career stats. If you find a picture of Smerek please send it to me. Still looking for a picture of our Red Ribbon #69, Ben Fricke, too.)
I do remember him, though. Smerek played 69 games for the Cowboys as a backup defensive lineman from 1981-87. An undrafted free agent out of Nevada-Reno, Smerek finished his career with 14.5 quarterback sacks, six of those in 1983, probably his finest season. Smerek is remembered for his time in Dallas, mainly, for two things.
One, he was shot in the chest one night by a Dallas motorist who claimed the 6′-7″, 260-pound Smerek kicked his car and challenged him to a fight. A Dallas grand jury refused to indict the shooter for attempted murder. They ruled it self-defense.
Two, Smerek was riding shotgun with Randy White when they famously crossed the Cowboys players’ picket line to participate in practice on the first day of the 1987 NFL players strike. Tony Dorsett stood in front of White’s pickup in a tense standoff in front of TV cameras and nearly got run over by an angry “Manster.” Of course, Dorsett actually joined the “scabs” two weeks later, along with Too Tall Jones and Danny White. I’m not sure the Cowboys ever got over what happened during those six weeks. But Smerek and Randy White were the first two to cross. And Smerek is the second-best player to ever wear #60 for the Cowboys.