Shut in – But Not Shut Out!
It has become clear throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. (Phil 1:13)
Hospitality helps us to make people feel at home—even if we wish that’s where they were! But imagine guests who invite themselves in, watch your every move 24/7, and prevent you from walking out your own door.
House-arrest is like that. It controls dangerous social activists without blowing any government’s budget on high-security facilities. Paul the apostle had two whole years of house-arrest. His guards, recruited from the most elite Roman families, were favoured to never face frontline action. He couldn’t escape them. They couldn’t escape him either.
Creative faith inspired Paul to find positives; despite travel to start or encourage churches being denied him. He was allowed to have visitors, and his guards were commanded to Paul’s conversations and the letters he dictated—conversations and letters that pulsated with encouragement for anyone to trust in a God of love, acceptance and redemption.
While his visitors could leave—armed with their letters, his guards faced unavoidable questions about how an invisible God could affect people so dramatically. What a contrast with Roman gods whose competition for personal power offered no guide for personal ethics or spreading compassion around!
As a result, Rome’s most influential citizens began to embrace the gospel. Paul was unable—or unqualified—to meet them personally, but one of God’s happiest habits is to leapfrog our personal limits and those imposed on us.
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