In my Bible reading this morning, I couldn’t help but notice the last verse of Colossians.
“I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” (Colossians 4:18)
As I read that, it seemed as if the words “Remember my chains” lifted off the page and demanded my attention.
“Remember my chains.” Honestly, I can’t relate. I’ve never been in chains. I’ve never been in prison. I’ve never been handcuffed. I’ve never been a suspect in a criminal proceeding.
So, when I think of someone in chains, I’m on the outside looking in. I suspect that most of the Christians in Colossae were, too.
Then what does Paul mean when he asks them to “remember his chains?” As I reflected on the answer to that question, I couldn’t help but realize that God was speaking to me as well.
Here are four responses that came to mind:
It creates sympathy
As we read of Paul’s chains, we are reminded that He was in prison in Rome for preaching the Gospel. He was a man with a passion to travel the known world and a mission to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all who would listen. Yet, he wrote this letter wasting away in a prison cell in Rome. Our hearts go out to him.
When we think of Christians such as Saeed Abedini who is has been a prisoner in Iran for over 3 years, we can’t help but be broken-hearted. Our hearts are moved with compassion for a fellow brother-in-Christ who is being detained, almost certainly tortured in the infamous Evin Prison and kept from his family for the Gospel.
But sympathy, on it’s own, is not of much use unless …
It motivates prayer
When we think of men and women in prison for the Gospel, follows of Jesus are moved to pray. What can we pray for?
For continued doors of opportunity to share the Gospel in prison (Colossians 4:3-4).
For safety in prison.
For patience, courage, wisdom, strength and other attributes that will enable them to continue standing for Christ.
But, if we truly care and are praying for a fellow Christian in prison, we won’t be able to sit idly by and do nothing…
It calls for action
Simply put, if we have the ability to help then we are obligated to help.
Whether that means providing assistance or visiting them in prison or petitioning the government to release our fellow Christian from prison, we cannot simply sit idly by. Words without action are useless (James 2:15-16).
If there is absolutely nothing that we can do, then we must still continue to lift them up in prayer.
When I read Paul’s words, “remember my chains,” it did something else in me. It caused me to reflect on some serious questions:
- Is my allegiance to Jesus so obvious that an anti-Jesus culture would see to it that I’m thrown into prison?
- Is my proclamation of the Gospel so loud that others would desire to shut me up?
- If I were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict me?
- Would I willingly embrace prison as my plight or would I deny Jesus and/or quit proclaiming the Gospel if the heat got turned up?
Paul’s words cause me to reflect upon my own walk with Jesus. Am I really taking it seriously enough?
By God’s grace, I am and will.