Your Rescue Isn't For Your Benefit
The beginning of the year means everyone is making resolutions. It’s about quitting doing harmful things as much as it is about starting to do better things. Some people make resolutions to let go of bad relationships or break free from addictions. For many people, all these resolutions come down to escaping a prison (whether mental, emotional or physical).
Last night during my study time of Acts, I read a very familiar passage of Peter and the apostles being arrested for preaching the Word...again. I think Peter and his crew spend as much time in prison in Acts as they do out of prison. You’ll want to read the whole story because taking scripture out of context just isn’t cool, but I don’t think pulling this passage out takes anything away from the meaning of the Word.
Acts 5: 17-20
17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”
So there they were, in prison, again. This time, however, they are rescued...from a locked prison with armed guards outside. The angel of the Lord just opened the doors and ushered them out.
Take heart, my friends. Whatever prison you feel you are in is no match for God. Even if the doors are locked (by you or someone else), even if Satan himself is standing guard, God can find you and He can rescue you!!
Don’t stop reading at the rescue. This daring escape wasn’t so they could go home to their warm comfortable beds. The angel of the Lord gave them strict instructions to tell the people of the new life in Christ. They were instructed to go right back to what got them arrested in the first place (which ensured they would be arrested again) and to tell the people about the new life they have in Christ.
Now don’t read this wrong. Unless you are imprisoned for preaching the word of God, I do not think He’s going to send you back into that life where you found your trouble. Your rescue, however, isn’t just for your benefit. He rescued you so you can tell others. You have a responsibility to speak of your rescue, not to sweep your pain and past under the rug. Give God the glory for this rescue and proclaim His word.
As I read this passage I thought about the pastors and Christians around the world who are imprisoned for their faith. If they were to find an escape from those prisons, we would recommend swift action to gather them up and bring them home. What if that’s not God’s plan? What if God’s plan is for these men and women to minister in their prison or to pick up their ministry where they left off and to continue to speak the Word of God?
I pray I am as bold as the apostles to speak God’s Word and tell about the new life in Christ.