“This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
I don’t know what you did to get you where you are, in prison or jail. And it really doesn’t matter. I’m not here to debate your guilt or innocence today. Just share hope. I am here to tell you that the playing field is equal at the foot of the cross. That, my friends is good news. It’s the good news the early Church was so excited about. And it’s what I am excited about today. You’re in good company. Just about every hero of the Bible was in prison at one time or another. Back then, being a believer got you prison or death. In some parts of the world it still does.
They felt the weight of the iron chains and they heard the same slam of those iron bars. I never have and I never want to. But I want to tell you that if you have heard them, and that’s where you are right now, hope is not out of your grasp.
You might have thought it was over when you entered that cell. And let me tell you, most people will applaud the fact that you are there. They might even want you there for good or dead. And if you have done something to deserve it, then I don’t feel bad you are there either. But I do feel very bad about the prison your soul is in if you don’t know Christ.
But I do feel bad for your eternal state if you have never felt the love His redemption brings.
All is not lost. The hope that the early church had can be yours too. None of us is too far out of the reach of His love. His love is like the sun, it’s everywhere. The hope that modern-day believers have even as they are facing prison or death in China, In Indonesia, and many other parts of the world can be yours too. They have hope because burning in their hearts is the knowledge that they know this prison is temporary. They have something worth sharing. And they won’t stop, even it means loss of their physical freedom here on earth.
You say, well I don’t want to be here at all. I want to be out there. I want to be free. There is only one person who can truly make us free.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1,2
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11
Listen, there are all kinds of prisons in this world, prisons of illness, prisons in our minds, prisons of addiction. Everyday I see people walking around in the free light of day, imprisoned. I can see it in their faces, they have no hope. Jesus saw it too and moved with compassion, He said, “they are like sheep without a shepherd.”
But I am here to tell you that the most dangerous prison in the world is the one you don’t know you’re in. You can’t ignore yours, they can. I can.
There are many people living the good life, flying here and there, surrounding themselves with the best this life has to offer. And you might want what they have, sometimes I do too, but don’t. Their prison might look a lot better than the one you’re in, but the bars are just as solid. And if they have never taken that step of faith that God requires, they need deliverance just as much as you.
I am not saying prison is easy or admirable, or good. I am sure it’s terrible.
But much more terrible is the eternal sentence we face without Jesus’ pardon. It’s something we all have to decide.
My prayers are with you. My hope is that you will listen to the people who come in with the Good Word. Don’t close your ears. Don’t scoff. Don’t make others feel weak if they go to those meetings. I know they have them there.
It’s freedom they’ve found.
And you can find it too.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Rejoicing in my freedom today.
Photo credit flickr: Some rights reserved, by Janrito Karamazov