“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” (Heb. 13:3)
When we think of prison, we usually see in our minds a large building with razor wire surrounding it, guards in the towers, armed and always vigilant. The men, or in some cases the women, clad in orange, rough natured, hardened generally by an upbringing many of us could not even imagine.
The Lord is at work in these places, you might be surprised just how convicted by the Holy Spirit some of these individuals are, forgiven by Christ, but never, even after their release many times, by others.
“For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” (Heb. 10:34)
Paul knew about prisons, places that would never be allowed today, where rehabilitation was not the order of the day, pain was. But there is another prison, and I fear that many who serve the Lord Jesus Christ abide in these places, not knowing the key to that cell door is in their possession.
To be ostracized by those we love, to be ridiculed, mocked, laughed at and scorned, to be hated by the world is the cell these brothers and sisters of ours live, when it should not be that at all.
There is little elation in prison, there is depression, there are regrets, self-hatred abides there, and what is missing in these that love the Lord is the acceptance of the truth of John 8:32. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
It is, in a strange way, a desire to still be accepted by those we know, not so much to be a part of the world and its wicked ways any longer, but not wanting to be thrust out of the acceptance of those we know, and many times still love. We want them to still be part of our lives, to still be our friends, but they, like animals in a pack that smell disease on one of their own, now realize that there is something different about us, we no longer laugh at the cruel jokes, view the same programs they do, enjoy the same things of the world.
“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1st Cor. 6:11)
There is something about us that they despise; we are no longer part of the crowd. And so, as it happens many times in the life of one who has been brought from darkness into the light, we enter that cell of loneliness.
“And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1st Kings 19:10)
Trying to hold onto the past while moving down the path set before us by the Lord never allows for any real growth my friends, dragging the world behind you will not just slow down your forward progress, it may hinder it, and that for the entirety of your life.
You have the key, but that key does not so much as open the door to freedom as it does lock the world out, keeps the past where it should be, in the past.
“And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,” (Mark 10:29)
To mourn the loss of what you are to forsake is foolishness, and every single one of us has played that part, all who have been saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ must learn this most difficult lesson, that Christ alone is the prize, that He is worth the loss of everything. But it will not be easy, and it shouldn’t be, or we would never realize the price that was paid for us.
“After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (Gen. 15:1)
How much you are willing to give up for His glory reveals how much you love Him, how long you decide to sit in that cell is left up to you, but the longer you do, the less you will know of Him who gave all for you.
Consider this, is that cell door keeping you locked in, or the world out? The key unlocks heaven, so to speak, and locks the world out.