What does it mean to be a prisoner of Christ?
I shared in my last blog that my parents would take all four of us boys to our Grandparents for the summer. Two of us would stay at one set of grandparents for two weeks and two at the other for two weeks and then we’d switch. It worked really well, until I started working for my Grandfather Watts in the 8th grade.
There were times during the summer that all four of us were at the Matteson’s for a couple of days, maybe a weekend or so. Of course we didn’t have the iPad’s or cable TV (actually TV was 4, 6, 10, and a couple of channels on the UHF), or all the things that keep kids inside today, even air conditioning was out of the question. It was outside and playing after breakfast, in for lunch unless we picnicked at the creek, then back outside playing until it was time to come in for supper.
We played in the creek building dams, swimming in the deeper parts of the creek, well, wading in them because we weren’t allowed to go under the water and it was only waist deep. Of course the dams wouldn’t last very long because they were sand and clay and eventually the water would wash them away. But it was a way to spend the time and we had a great time.
One of the games that we played was “Cowboys and Indians.” Grandfather had a rich assortment of ropes in the basement and we’d raid the stash, which was okay as long as we put everything back where we found it, which we always did ALWAYS. Now, we didn’t have guns, because our parents and grandparents didn’t believe in playing with guns or using guns. So, what we’d do was capture the Indians, or capture the Cowboys and tie them up with the ropes. They were our prisoners. We’d set up one tree or a pole in the yard as the jail and there the prisoner had to stay tied up. If they were able to break the knots, or their team mate could get them free, then they could join the game again. We played this for hours.
Of course we couldn’t get the knots tight enough to hold anyone in “prison” for very long. No matter how many times we wrapped the rope around the tree, no matter how many knots we put in the rope, no matter what kind of knot we put in the rope, eventually they got away. That meant that the game went on and on and on for ever. Which was okay because it mean that we kept running all morning, or all afternoon, and kept busy out of Grandmother’s hair, lol. Plus we had a lot of fun.
As I think back over that memory I think about a certain passage and how it relates to us “waiting on the Lord.” Paul writes in Ephesians 3:1 “This is the reason I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus for those of you who are not Jewish.” One of the words, as you might guess, that jumps out at me is the word “prisoner.” I did a little study on this word into the original language and as you might guess it means–a captive, in bonds, a prisoner. However, the depth that I get out of this is that Paul wasn’t able to break free from this bondage. In Romans we read where he says that he is a slave to righteousness. When you think of the word slave and what a slave was in our country, it really isn’t a pretty picture. A slave had no rights. They didn’t own property. They couldn’t go anywhere, unless the Master said so. They couldn’t do anything unless the Master said they could.
That’s what I think of when I think of a prisoner. Not what a prisoner is today. Prisoners today have it pretty easy. But I don’t want to get into all that. Paul was bound to Jesus. He couldn’t break away. It was, “I’ll go where You want. Do what You want. Follow You where You go.” These “ropes” are tied so tight that they can’t be broken. I’ve tried. I’ve pulled away. I’ve pulled from Him. I’ve walked away from Him. And yet everytime I do, I come right back to Him. I come back to what He has called me to do. There may be things that I have to do along the way. There may be things that I have to repent of. Lessons that I have to learn before stepping back to where I was. However, He restores what I lost. He brings me back. He restores my soul afresh and new every morning. I picture it this way…
I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus…” I’m in bonds to You, Lord. I’m bound to You, Lord. I’m in chains to You, Lord. I can go nowhere else. I can do nothing that You don’t want me to do, Lord. I’m Your prisoner. I’m Your slave. Take me I’m Yours. Best of all, I don’t want to go anywhere else. Before I came to You I tried all that. It didn’t fulfill. It didn’t work. It didn’t help. It still left a hole in my life. You are the only One who filled that hole. You are the only One who has blessed. You are the only One who has met all my needs. You are the only One who has comforted me when I was all alone. You are the only One who has stood by me. When all others walked away. When they all left after the funereal service, You were there. When they all went to bed and I was left in the dark, You were there shining Your light in and on my life. You wiped my tears away. When I was on my knees in the middle of the night crying to You because I couldn’t take it any longer, there You were holding my head in Your lap, stroking my hair, hearing my cries, shedding a tear Yourself, telling me, “It’s going to be alright. You have to go through this right now. But I’m here. You’re bound to me. You’re my child. You’re with me. I’ll take care of you. I’ll give you the strength to get through this. I know what you’re experiencing. Once you get through it, you’ll have a story to tell. You’ll have a witness that will change others. You’ll be an open door that no man can shut. That “open door” will bring others to me and they will be able to be healed just like you are being healed right now. So, go ahead and cry. Go ahead and yell. Go ahead and let it out. I’ll hold you. I’ll love you. I’ll help you through it. I’ll guide you. I’ll provide what you need. That’s Who I am. That’s what the Word says. “I AM, that I AM.” Go ahead and let it out. I AM here.” You see, that’s what a True Master does. That’s what a True Lord and King does. That’s what King Jesus Does. That’s what our heavenly Father does. Paul knew that and because of that he could face whatever came his way with strength, power, and full assurance that God was in control. He was a prisoner. That’s why, I believe, he could write the verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.
I leave you with this question, what has you bound today? What are you bound to today? There are many things that can bind us. People, work, money, food, social media, email, friends, and the list can go on and on. What are you bound to today? If it’s not Jesus Christ first and foremost, you need to re-evaluate your life. You’re playing a dangerous game. Can you say, “This is the reason I, (Your name), am the prisoner of Christ Jesus…” I pray that if not today, one day soon you will be able to. My heart is heavy for people to be able to say those words. For all to be a prisoner to Jesus.
Until next time,