God the Liberator

Phil Christman

Read: Acts 16:25-27

And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. (v. 26)

In my work with prisoners, I’ve met people locked up, like Paul, unjustly. I’ve met wrongdoers who were themselves the victims of greater wrongdoing, whether by parents, abusive husbands, systemic racism, or other prisoners. A few times (less often than TV would have you believe) I have met people in bondage to real evil, people who actively and habitually identified with their worst impulses—but that’s still bondage, perhaps the worst kind. The one thing I have in common with all these people is that I am a sinner. I too need deliverance.

When I think of these things, I find myself growing frustrated with biblical miracle accounts, such as the one we read today. If God rescued Paul and his cellmates in this dramatic fashion, why won’t he do likewise for me and you? We have no answer for this question except the knowledge that our Savior suffers with us. But as for this miracle, it’s no easy delivery. Paul was saved from imprisonment only to take up again a life of inconvenience, rootlessness, exile, intermittent torture, and further imprisonment. He did so because he knew and loved Christ Jesus, a person whom this miracle, like all miracles, reveals to us. Christ is the one who, in his own time, unfastens all the bonds. —Phil Christman

Prayer: Lord, every one of us needs to be freed from something. Show us how you are already accomplishing our freedom, and direct us to your liberating work in the lives of those around us.