Who The Son Sets Free, Shall Be Free Indeed!
In the late hours of the night, many of us find ourselves scrolling aimlessly on social media. It's a pointless endeavor that typically leads us nowhere. Perhaps liking the odd post or sharing something that makes us laugh in our head, rarely out loud.
Sometimes, just sometimes, you can come across something that stirs you so much you can't sleep. This happened to me the other night. I came across a group on Facebook called God Behind Bars.
It's a ministry that partners with churches to bring the good news of Jesus to people who are inmates in prisons around the country. It goes beyond just going inside and preaching to people, mostly men, who will at some point be released back into the outside world. Our system typically lets people down in this area because our government often fails to support the rehabilitation process due to lack of funding. So often times, people who have been in prison are left to their own rehabilitation which more often than not ends with them going right back into the life they once knew - the criminal world. God Behind Bars focuses on reaching and feeding the physical, spiritual, and relational needs of inmates and their families.
This got me thinking about two things.
The first thought was:
What it means to be imprisoned and what it means to be free.
You see, I think it's easy to think of this from a worldly point of view.
"The bad guys are in there, locked up, in prison but we, the good guys, are out here, free."
I would argue that the men that I witnessed in the videos on the God Behind Bars Facebook page are more free than most people I know.
How many of us are imprisoned in our thoughts and our ways? Lost in addictions that are so normalized in our everyday world we can't even recognize them as sinful anymore? Let's name a few...
Eating like gluttons, working for the next promotion, looking for happiness in the bottom of bottle, searching for love through porn, playing video games constantly, playing the lottery to try to catch a big win, gossiping about our neighbors, living in jealousy towards others...
Did you find your name in there? I sure found mine!
Here's what I realized while scrolling aimlessly through social media and seeing grown men, locked in a prison, on their hands and knees weeping with pure JOY because they have found freedom through Jesus Christ; they are indeed more free than most.
"For one who has died has been set free from sin." - Romans 6:7
When was the last time we saw that happen at church? Because if we're REALLY free...I mean, if we REALLY understood what it means to be free from our sin because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross then we should be CELEBRATING like those men EVERY single day of our lives.
Yet we aren't.
If you have accepted Christ in your life as your Lord and Savior, your physical surroundings don't matter. You are free! Free from sin, free from shame, free from death, free in Christ!
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” - John 8:36
The second thought was:
Our God is a BIG God!
Let's be honest, unless you personally know someone behind bars in a prison, most of us in or day to day life don't stop to think about the people in there; but God does.
We put our sins on a scale. We're better than them. We HAVE to be, that's why they are in prison and we're not, right?
We think we can justify our sinful thoughts and sinful behavior because we've conformed so much to the world that we don't even see the way we live as sin. We're blind to it. All those examples of personal prisons I listed above? They really are sinful traps that keep us from God!
It may not say, "Thou shall not play video games" in the commandments but it does say “You Shall Not Make for Yourself an Idol” - Exodus 20:4 We may read this and think, okay, so I won't worship another God. I'm good to go! In one sense, you're right. I think it's important that we only worship the one true creator God. However, I would argue that in biblical days, false gods were much easier to distinguish such as Baal or Molech. Today, however, I think our false gods are a little less obvious....
Let me be clear, I'm not saying that if you play video games, you're going to hell. I mean, I hope not because I enjoy video games too! What I am saying is that if you give the majority of your time to video games and little or no time to Jesus, what or who then is your God? Because what you spend your time doing is what you're serving.
The world will put our sins on a scale. We'll tell ourselves that obviously, murder = bad! Adultery = still bad but obviously not as bad as murder! False idols that take us away from serving God = meh, that's not a sin because God will forgive you. Just one more game anyways, then I'll read my bible...I promise...
But what happens when you read James 2:10 and it says, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."
Wait, what!? You're saying I'm just as guilty as the men and women who are literally in prison for murder or rape? I've never killed anybody! How can that be?
The uncomfortable answer is...yes.
To think otherwise is to put God in a box. It limits His ability to reach even the most hardened heart. No one is unreachable and no prison wall, no matter how big or tall it is, whether its a wall of concrete or a wall around our own heart, can stop God.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” - Romans 3:23
Those were my thoughts at 3 am as I scrolled through social media...no wonder I couldn't sleep, right?
Thank you so much for your unwavering grace that you give us. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for all you have done for us. Thank you for taking the place of our sins on the cross and for giving us true freedom! Eternal freedom that no prison walls can take away from us.
Lord, I ask that anyone reading this can be blessed. Let them turn from anything that may have a hold on them or anything that is keeping them from You. Help them to see You are all they will ever need.
All glory and praise to You, Lord!
In Jesus' name I pray this prayer,