Contemporary Christian Chains
In Paul’s day, when he was writing letters for the various churches of the New Testament, he was in jail, bound by physical chains. Even though he was in prison and suffering for his faith, suffering possible punishments simply because he believed in Jesus Christ as his savior. He stated that he was “in chains for Christ.” That if he were to die from his punishments or imprisonment, it would be to his benefit, as he would then be with his Lord. And knew that if he survived from today to the next day, it would be for the benefit of Christianity. He could continue to encourage the churches, and he could testify to God’s good faith for keeping him alive.
I read this and I feel that it is very amazing. I remember the moment. I was riding the c-train, reading the passage on biblegateway on the tiny screen of my phone, and I thought, “That’s really great and all, but I really don’t think that applies to me.” And so, having read my passage, I stopped reading for a while and thought about it. I felt that God wanted me to take a closer look at the passage. The Bible is God’s words. They are instruction and guidance. God gave me a very gentle nudge (that was all that it took since I didn’t have much else to do on the train) and I began thinking. I came to a realization that Christians everywhere are “chained” even today, just in a very different form.
I think through the course of time, the evil one has found that physical chains, like the ones Paul had were not providing the effect he wanted. So he changed the form of the chains. The chains went from physical, to psychological. The chain become an emotion that hindered us. How many times have I kept silent about my Savior because I’m worried about what others will think? How many times have I been afraid to talk to a non-believer fearing that they might ask a question that I don’t have an answer to? How many times have I been afraid to greet a stranger and wish him/her a good day because it would seem “awkward” or “unusual”? How many times have I passed by someone in need of assistance worrying about my own needs? How many times have I been scared to invite friends to church because I’m uncertain of their reaction? How many times were other Christians restrained by the same chains? Probably a lot.
In many ways, this is even worse. The reason being that many Christians do not even realize that they are being chained.
Let’s look at the effects of both separately to compare them:
The Chains of Paul’s Time:
- Physical chains restraining him.
- Provoked passionate emotions from Paul as well as other believers.
- The chains provoked this reaction because they were obvious and noticeable.
- Paul sets an example to many Christians, and shows that God is faithful and will sustain him.
The Chains of Our Time:
- Emotional chains restraining us.
- We feel scared, therefore we don’t do the things that Christ taught and lived for because it goes against what our society tells us is “correct”
- We don’t really think of this as a “chain” restraining us, so we put up no reaction, no struggle.
- A lot of potentially great work for the Kingdom of God is not done.
Hmm… I think the evil one’s approach now is doing a lot better.
Addressing the fears and worries I addressed above:
- Why am I worried of what others feel about me? Doing the work of God was never meant to be for self glorification, but for the glorification of the Father.
- Why am I afraid of questions that I don’t know the answer to? Admitting that you don’t know something, is a chance to learn something. In other words, by having that question asked, if I can find the answer to that question, I can move closer to God.
- Why am I worried about my needs? God has proven to me that when I need it, He will provide what I need. (I’ve found this very true in my life. Especially now that I’m struggling with a new stage of my life called University.
- If my friends stopped being my friends JUST because I asked them to go to church, I would start to wonder if they were really my friends. If they gave me a “no” then to the very least, I had them think about it.
Now, I’m not saying that I’ll never be afraid ever again. I’ll be scared when I try to approach people I don’t know, when I talk to people about things that I don’t generally talk of, and so and so, I’m human, that fear will still exist. The difference will be how I deal with it. Instead of cowering, I will pray that God give me strength to break those chains, to give me the courage to do what I fear to do.