Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How Effective Was the Apostle Paul From Prison?

Today in America we celebrate our freedom.
Freedom from tyranny.
Freedom of religion.
Freedom of self-rule.
But what is it truly to stand for something, rather than against it?
Were our forefathers more against the King of England, or more for independence?

The Apostle Paul wrote much of the new testament, some from a prison cell, and even while shackled to the guards on either side.
Did he whine and complain about the conditions? Maybe.
Did he ask the guards to loosen his bindings some? Maybe.
Do we read about these things now? No.
Did the situation change his attitude? No.

He continued to preach Christ to anyone who would listen.

Do prisoners today do anything worthwhile?
Hard to say. Many are too busy complaining.
And we do the same thing in our own areas of life.
We argue against so much that it becomes part of our identity
until it cannot be separated from who we are inside
and we lose sight of what precisely we stand for
rather than against.

But if we listened to one who wished to make a difference?
Are we more likely to to hear because he spoke words of condemnation?
Or will we listen more to words of truth, love, and forgiveness?

NBA player Chris Paul is an unbelievable point guard, and he has an unbelievable heart for the Lord. In 2002, Paul’s 61-year-old grandfather was jumped, duck taped and beaten until he died - by a group of teenagers who wanted his wallet. He was Paul’s best friend. What has Paul said about the case? “These guys were 14 and 15 years old [at the time], with a lot of life ahead of them. I wish I could talk to them and tell them, ‘I forgive you. Honestly.’ I hate to know that they’re going to jail for such a long time. I hate it.” That’s a powerful picture of forgiveness. (paraphrase from Jon Acuff - Stuff Christians Like)
And its a powerful picture of freedom. The freedom to choose how we respond. The freedom to be known what one is known for, rather than against.

Jesus sets us free forever: So even that night before his death, Jesus says, “There is still promise.” There is the promise of how he sets us free. He sets us free from ourselves, he sets us free from tears and fears, and he sets us free from our sin, anger, and guilt. And the fourth cup of passover is a reminder that Jesus sets us free forever. This isn't a temporary freedom; it is forever. Jesus says, “One day we're going to celebrate together forever.” Its the freedom of a new life in Him. This promise gives us a chance to see the world anew, and to share Christ’s love with others.

And isn’t that the best part of freedom?
To stand for what is good and uplifting,
rather than adding to the anger of what we dislike?

No matter where you are
and what challenges you struggle against
Stand in the promise of Christ
and live freely in what you are FOR.

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