Are You A Prisoner?
Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, called himself a "prisoner of the Lord". I've not done a study to know exactly what prisons were like back in Paul's day, but for sure they didn't have running water and cable TV. They didn't have functioning restrooms, and other facilities like they do now. Surely prisons were a dreaded place to be, so for Paul to describe himself as a prisoner to the church in his letter, this probably triggered some thoughts about the conditions prisoners were living under.
The term 'prisoner' means that someone is being held captive, in most instances against their will, restrained involuntarily, confined against their desires. We know however that this was not the case for Paul, he was willingly in this position. He had placed himself in Jesus's custody. He had bound himself to Christ, giving up his own freedom to serve our Lord.
And it is from that viewpoint that Paul says "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received". (Eph 4:1) Paul admits that he has given up his own path, and chosen the path of submission to Christ, as he urges others to do the same. Paul understood the benefits of his decision to submit to the will of Jesus, and to be constrained by Jesus teachings. Paul was compelled to lead others to do the same.
In the next 5 verses, Paul explained some of what was involved in being a prisoner of the Lord, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph 4:2-6).
Today, how are you and I doing when it comes to our humility? Are we gentle and patient as we bear with other people, especially in the church, and do we undertake that in love? Can we say we live in unity with fellow believers in the Spirit of God? Do we preach the one body, one spirit, one lord, one faith and one baptism to the world in the face of a mountain of false doctrine all around us? God is indeed Father of all, and He is over us all, and for His family of believers, He dwells in us all through His Spirit.
Are there some changes you need to make? Are there changes I need to make? We only know when we hold ourselves up against the standard and do some comparisons to the life we live. Christ offers His "grace and mercy in time of need", and we are told that we can approach His throne boldly when we stand in need of help, and be confident that He will help when asked (Heb 4:16). I sincerely pray that we all do that, that we all desire to live according to His will, and seek His help when we struggle.
Christian, take courage today. Being a prisoner of Christ is a great place to be, a place of comfort and safety. We strive for unity and maturity in the family of believers and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We desire to live a life of love, worthy of the calling He has given us. If you are not a prisoner today, turn yourself in. What better place to grow and mature than in His custody!