We’re used to hearing this phrase “I’m a celebrity – get me out of here.” The implication is that because the person yelling the phrase is famous, they should not have to tolerate the circumstances they are in. We have been taught the idea that if you are a celebrity then life should be painless. It’s interesting to see how radically different the message of the bible is, in contrast to that viewpoint. Read Colossians Ch 4
Paul The Apostle is in prison with other church leaders as he writes this letter to the church and he makes a request of the Colossian Christians
“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 – that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.”
Not quite “I’m an Apostle – get me out of here” but rather pray that while I’m in here God would open a door for me to speak of Christ. In verse 5 of chapter 4 Paul instructs the Christians in Colossae to ‘make the best use of time.’ Paul applies this instruction to his own life – rather than grumbling about how things have turned out, Paul wants to make the best use of a prison sentence! This verse is really spoke to me today. I felt a sense of shame as I thought of the time I have wasted and the opportunities that have slipped by as I mumbled about my circumstances rather than making the most of them. This is the call of God upon the life of EVERY Christian. ‘Make the most of every opportunity’ Ephesians 5:16
The ultimate expression of how even bad times can produce good results is – the cross. Of course the first disciples would look on at the horror of what was happening and ask “how can this be good?’ ‘how can anything good come from this?” An eternal perspective is necessary if we are to sense that life’s problems have a purpose. It takes genuine faith to believe that there’s a point to our pain. The limitations we face are often for our good.
As we thought about Living in The Real World on Sunday at Carnmoney we considered the hope that the cross gives us. Avoidance of problems or escape from our circumstances is not necessarily the best course of action. We were glad that the bible is not silent on suffering and drew comfort from the fact that Jesus experienced abandonment and betrayal of close friends. One of the main things that guided Jesus through this horrendous period of His earthly life was a grasp of Scripture. Jesus knew the incredible truth that – God’s promises remain when our problems are real. His Word is not in jeopardy when the internet goes down, when illness hits, when printers jam or trains are cancelled. God is working out His purposes in and through the mess of our lives. Paul recognises this and asks the Colossian Church to pray for God to open a door for the message about Jesus to be spoken in the context of a prison.
If you feel trapped or imprisoned today by: ill health, financial constraints, family problems, work issues or anything else, know that not all freedom is good. Ask God to enable you to ‘make the best use of time’ even in the unpleasant situation you face. Contemplate the good news that has come from the cross and ask God to help you trust Him – even in the pain or hard time you are enduring right now.
VERSE TO REMEMBER
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it – with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2