Sunday, June 2, 2019

No Prisoner

No Prisoner
June 3, 2019
Ephesians 3:1  "For this reason, I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ. . . ."

Paul was one of the most influential Christians of his time. Being once a huge persecutor of Christians and then becoming a follower of Christ, made him rather well known in religious circles. He was a polar opposite for Christianity at one time in his life or another, a zealous man for whatever cause he believed. When he became a Christian, those opposed to Christianity put a target on Paul's back, knowing he would be a strong influencer for Christ. Satan likely took notice as well, knowing he would cause significant damage to the dark kingdom once he became a proponent for Christ. Jesus saw it all too. The Lord knew of Paul's passion and the lengths he would go to in order to spread his passion.

Paul's passion for Christ eventually landed him in prison. He was actually in prison several times, but he wrote his prison epistles over the course of two years' incarceration at one point. Paul was preaching the gospel and it landed him in jail. Interesting to note, was Paul's perspective on his prison term. Paul's enemies were the ones who wanted him in jail. They were certainly glad for his incarceration. They thought their attack on him was working, that it would stop Paul from being effective for Christ. Paul, however, had a completely different point of view. Paul never blamed his captures for the jail time, or his enemies, or Satan, or the government official who approved of the prison term, or even the government that put him there. Paul didn't even blame the Lord. He gave full credit and responsibility to the Lord for allowing him in prison, but he never blamed God. Paul said he was a prisoner for Christ, suggesting that it was certainly Christ who willingly allowed Paul in prison.

Paul's perspective was one of submission to the Lord and whatever strange work He was doing by allowing Paul to be put in chains. In hindsight, we can see the benefit of Paul's incarceration, if anything we have several books of the Bible as a result, with Paul having plenty of time to sit and write. But Paul was effective for the Lord on the inside, too. Paul was preaching the good news inside the prison walls, and word spread that this zealous man was gladly willing to sit in prison because he followed Christ. Paul likely could have left prison if he renounced the Lord, and apologized to the sinful society. Paul's relationship with the Lord was far more important. Paul could have left jail if he played his cards right, but he chose not to play their game, rather follow the Lord wherever that meant.

Your situating right now may feel like a prison sentence. It is not. The Lord has allowed it.  It is not beyond His control. Don't blame others, don't blame the enemy, and certainly don't blame the Lord. You can, however, give responsibility over to the Lord for allowing this current prison sentence, as likely there is something far bigger than you and I can imagine going on. Reading through scripture, the times when the Lord is most at work, is when the story's protagonist is being persecuted, punished, and imprisoned. But the Lord would say to you today, you're not really in prison, you are working for the Lord and this place right here and right now is where He has allowed you. Some how, some way, you have to submit to where you are and let the Lord do His work. In the meantime, your job is to be effective for Christ in this moment, during the seeming prison sentence. You are a prison of Christ, not of anyone else. This situation is working out exactly according to His plan; it isn't a prison sentence at all. This, yes, whatever you are dealing with today, is not prison and you're not really a prisoner, you are an influencer for Christ.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  John 21:15-19, Rom 8:28, Eph 3:1-13, Eph 4:1-7

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