"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you, ..." Ephesians 3:1
This week in my devotional reading, the subject of Paul, writing that he was a prisoner of Christ came up.
"I beseech you therefore, I, the prisoner in the Lord, to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called." Ephesians 4:1
It is not hard to think of Paul the great apostle, the great Evangelist, great writer of the epistles; to even think of him as a prisoner of Rome-as he penned letters to the churches. But Paul considered himself, and wrote that he was a prisoner of Christ. Physically he was in a prison, but in reality he was imprisoned in Christ.
What does it mean to be imprisoned in Christ? Am I imprisoned in Christ? Do I really want, deep down inside to be imprisoned in Christ? If I desire so, am I willing to live so?
I would suppose that a prisoner in the Lord would walk in the Lord. Such a person would no longer be free to come and go as he pleases or according to his own convenience but would abide in Christ in such a way as to have his comings and goings directed by God.
This thought really took hold of me, and I googled the phrase "prisoner of Christ" hoping to find some great thoughts by heavy weight bible teachers I admire. I was surprised to find page after page of scripture translation of the verse, but not many sermons. Kevin suggested that I try to google "freedom in Christ", and yes-I found alot of content on this phrase. Freedom seems to be much more agreeable in a human way than prisoner.
Our abiding in the Lord is a relational abiding. In this relationship we are not bound by rules, but are constrained by our relationship and love. Christ came not to end the law, but to fullfill it. This paradox is lived out, in a concrete way, daily in my relationship to my husband; I do not walk around with a list of do's and don'ts but I am mindful and constrained by our relationship and mindful of not wanting to hurt him. Our life in Christ is often one of constraint, demanding decisions of me that impact my walk with Him.
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in the Christ and manifests the savor of the knowledge of Him through us in every place." 2 Cor. 2:14
the picture Paul painted here is of the triumphal procession in the Roman Empire when a battle was won. This procession showed off the captives taken in victory. Paul was such a captive of Christ. He did not consider himself the impressive apostle or great teacher, but merely a captive in the triumphal procession of Christ the victor.
Do I let Christ conquer and subdue me? Do I deport myself as a captive of Christ, or do I demand to walk in a freedom of my own self-will? Am I only seeking the Lord's will according to my own will? Have I been defeated by Christ?
Do I see that freedom is not grasped through my living out my will in an outward way, but true freedom comes through Christ living in me?
My daily struggle is not with the world, but between the Lord and I, untill I am willing to be constrained by Christ and see this abiding as a free-ing thing.