This post is for you — the one dragging yourself through the impossible, the one aching with loneliness, the one lying awake with blame and worry gnawing at your mind and your rest.
It’s for you — the one who hates your circumstances or your status or that thing about yourself.
We started The Colossians Project long ago with an overview of Paul’s where — writing letters as a captive in a house prison in Rome.
Now, Paul clears up the why:
At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison — (Colossians 4:3).
Paul does not say I’m in prison on account of the hard hearts of the Jews and the Romans, or because of bad choices or circumstances or weaknesses, or because of false accusations against me, though undoubtedly all those things were true.
Paul says it’s the mystery of Christ that has put him in chains – that the gospel itself has landed him in jail. In his letter to the Ephesians, probably dictated from the same chair where he sits to compose Colossians, Paul calls himself not a prisoner of Rome, but “a prisoner of the Lord.”
As we pace about our own prisons, two things to know from this verse:
One, doing things right doesn’t mean things won’t go wrong.
We often worship our own obedience instead of our God, whose plan can include problems and bad people and prisons and still be perfect. Our circumstances don’t equal the measure of our faith — our results don’t equal God’s love and work on our behalf.
Two, we can choose the purpose for our prisons.
We can proclaim ourselves forever captive by another’s sin, or by our bad choices or circumstances, or by a situation that’s no fault of our own.
Or, we can proclaim ourselves a prisoner of the Lord, put in this place and this way with reason and intent so that we may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Philippians 3:10-11) and so open to us a door for the word (Colossians 4:3).
When we hate our circumstances or our status or that thing about ourselves, we can spend our energy and tears and pain decrying the mysteries of the world.
Or we can spend it declaring the mystery of Christ, who loves us not because we are slave or free, but for the sake of His glorious name.