Whose prisoner are you?

Christian perspective has become a prime target for liberal society and media. As a result, attacks on Bible content and Christian ethics have gained momentum as the sanctity of life is challenged and God’s moral boundaries abandoned.

Sadly selective scripture application or, indeed, silence is now a serious consideration for many Christians. Yet, some would argue that this is what’s required for the western Church to survive!

Could I respectfully suggest that the current assault on Christianity and society is not a new event or one that is without precedent.

In the Apostle Paul’s journey in mission, he walked in a strikingly similar environment to today’s opposition to the Christian message. Moral depravity, idolatry, and religious and political opposition were Paul’s daily reality.

By the time Paul writes the epistle to the Ephesians, he has been a prisoner for about five years. Paul has suffered vicious opposition from his fellow Jews. Their anger at Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel message revealing God’s salvation for us Gentiles also led to extreme reactions. Paul is then falsely accused, beaten, faced kangaroo courts and long imprisonment.

It is in this very real situation that Paul declares himself to be a prisoner! Strikingly, however, Paul doesn’t declare himself to be a prisoner of Rome, but rather “the prisoner of Christ Jesus”.  (Eph 3 v 1)

Paul’s response in this environment of strong opposition and accompanying social upheaval was to turn to His Lord and Saviour’s mission.  Jesus’ mission was to reach the lost regardless of their social position or perspectives or opposition.

In Paul’s troubled world, he chose to embrace the opportunity to proclaim God’s plan for the rescue of broken men and women through the good news of the Gospel message!  Paul’s motivation came from his gratitude for the grace and mercy of God that had saved him. In Paul’s love and gratitude, he refused to be a prisoner to fear or to other social agendas or to the watered-down version of Holy Scripture.

In our troubled society, we too can also decide whose prisoner we are!

To be a prisoner of God is to embrace God’s invitation to be His children. Children blessed with the company of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit and heirs of His promises, that is, taking us on a journey to eternal inheritance!

To be a prisoner of fear, anxiety and social concerns while trapped in the pursuit of selfish pleasure can only be set aside through acknowledging God as our absolute sovereign, creator, and Saviour.

Wisdom, not silence, courage not compromise is required. As we deal with the increase of social carnage surrounding us, the example of Jesus is worthy of consideration. His love for me, a sinner, was His motivation! Our love replaces anger and despair at our broken world combined with close contact, is what touches the community and makes Jesus visible.  Remember Jesus came down to this world of social and relational chaos!

Angry words on social media and protesting at our sick world will have little impact on reaching people with the Gospel. To reach the lost, “We must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2 v 6). The principle is this, “You may impress from a distance, but you can only relate from up close”. Every step of Jesus in His mission required getting up close to our broken world and its people.  I must never forget how close He came to rescue me.

Murray Stevenson