I was captivated by our gospel Sunday, Acts 16: 16-34, an expose of freedom, denied, restored and lived.
First we meet a “slave girl,” possessed by a demon who speaks visions of the future, leading to her being held captive and exploited for profit.
Second we encounter Paul and Silas, unjustly imprisoned for freeing the child from the demon.
Finally, we meet the prison guard, keeper of the keys, who places Paul and Silas in the most severe conditions the prison has to offer.
What I love about God’s word, richly on display here, is how he tilts our perspective like a prism to give us a glimpse of the world from a heavenly perspective.
At the outset it is Paul and Silas who appear to suffer the greatest loss of freedom. They are severely beaten and unjustly imprisoned for setting this young girl free from her spiritual and physical bondage.
And yet, those with the least freedom by the world’s standards display a freedom most of us can only imagine. Locked in stocks in the innermost cell of the prison, Paul and Silas pray and sing hymns to God, to the stunned amazement of their fellow prisoners, as well as the guard.
This is enviable freedom. Their fellow prisoners stay put—saving the guard’s life—in unspoken submission to Paul and Silas’ example. The guard is not only spared the sword, but places his faith in Jesus, winning a new generation to freedom, as he and his entire family are baptized by sunrise.
What is diminishing your freedom in Christ right now? Is it a loss of mental or spiritual well-being? Physical deprivation? The illusion of worldly power and influence?
Pray and sing hymns to the God who gave his life to set you free:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.Galatians 5:1
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.1Corinthians 9:19
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.2 Corinthians 3:17