What lessons can we learn from the apostle Paul's experience in prison?
[Darris McNeely] Have you ever been trapped in a car, trapped in a room, locked in or locked out, perhaps, especially with a car? Do you get a little panicky? Do you wanna get in to the car or do you wanna get out of the room that you might be locked into?
The Apostle Paul was in prison, and he wrote a letter to the church in the town of Colossians, a small group of people who had a special affinity with Paul. And he said to them an interesting thing in chapter 4 of the book of Colossians, the letter that he wrote to them, in verse 3, he said, "Pray for us," he said, "that God would open to us a door for the word to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I'm also in chains." Paul was writing this letter to the church from a prison, from incarceration in Rome. That was a house arrest, not quite as bad as it could have been, but he didn't have his full liberties. And he wrote back to the church and he said, "Instead of asking them to pray that I get out of here, pray that the Roman government will let me be free," he said, "Pray for us that God would open a door for the word to speak the mystery of Christ." That's what it was on his mind. That's what he wanted to really do. And that's why he wanted to get out. It was to preach the mystery of Christ. He valued that more than he valued, in a sense, his own freedom. And he asked the church to be able to do that. You know, the mystery of Christ, it's an interesting phrase here. And he wanted to speak that mystery, and that's the real reason that Paul was even in jail. Paul had been going all through the Roman world preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God, which was a message that got him in trouble.
First of all, we got in trouble with the Jews because they didn't accept that Christ was the son of God come in the flesh. They had put Him to death. And they followed Him all around. His message was a threat to their order, to their status. The message of the Kingdom of God was also a threat to the order of the Roman Empire because it was a message of obedience and service to Christ, the real king who was coming back with His kingdom. And so, that message, that mystery of Christ that he was preaching is what got him in prison to begin with, but he wanted to be able to get out and to preach it even further to other people. And that's what was on his mind, in a sense more than his own liberty, he wanted liberty only so far as he could actually continue doing the work of God, not for necessarily just his own personal safety. That's how he thought. That, again, is why he was there, but that's what he wanted to get out and do, which would have brought more trouble upon him. And it actually did, but it speaks to the importance of that message, the mystery of Christ.
Paul understood that Christ had come in the flesh, that God had come in the flesh, that we in the flesh would have the hope, the ability to one day become Spirit in the family of God, in the kingdom of God. When that message drives you, everything else takes the backseat.
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