What Faith Will Do
- 2020 Sep 30
I have never been to prison, never set foot in one to visit anyone, but I've spent an inordinate among of time thinking of prison. As a Black woman, the threat of imprisonment appears very real for those I love simply because of the color of their skin.
To bring this closer to home, members of my family have encountered unwarranted police harassment where a necessary stop was a night in jail. One night in prison is enough, especially if you're wrongfully there. Imagine being imprisoned for an even greater cause. Imprisonment represents a loss of freedom; the worse our society has to offer. The threat of imprisonment produces fear, yet Paul was imprisoned for preaching Christ for a significant time during his ministry, demonstrating steadfast faith.
When Paul pens his pray in Ephesians 1:15-23, he is under house arrest, chained to a member of the Praetorian guard, an elite group of soldiers. But he can receive guests (Acts 28:30,31). These guests were living in a time when it wasn't fashionable to be called a Christian. Christians in the early church were regularly persecuted during Paul's ministry; many may have risked their lives just by visiting Paul. The threat of persecution and imprisonment was a factor of the utmost importance in the environment of the early church. Though imprisoned, when Paul prays for the Ephesians, he wants them to know Christ just as he does. Paul is imprisoned because of HIS faith; through eyes of faith, he prays because of THEIR faith. Because of their faith, Paul prays.
Before Paul prays, He highlights the characteristics of whom He serves and trusts, pointing to the spiritual blessings we receive because we are God's children. God is worthy of praise, faithful, redeemed us, called us, generous with grace, and gave us an inheritance. Because of Paul's past, he feels blessed to serve a God who would love and choose him (Ephesians 1:4). Paul, a murderer of Christians, is now one dedicated to Christ. Paul's life demonstrates faith in Christ, which leads to imprisonment.
However, it is the Ephesians' faith that inspires this pray for wisdom, hope, and gratitude. When we're in severe circumstances, we need Godly wisdom, which enlightens. By faith, we are recipients of His power in our lives. Eventually, we know, whether bound or free, God is over everything. The extent of God's love for us yields gratefulness and hope.
Over time my fear of prison has dissipated because my faith in Christ increased. Because of faith, even when the circumstances seem dire, I know that He is over all things. Like Paul, I can exhibit faith under the worse conditions and pray for others, so their faith grows. Somehow through the mystery of faith, I can endure. I don't have such a tangible fear of systemic imprisonment anymore, for when we are prisoners for Christ, He can do his best work in and through us.
This is what faith will do: it will ignite others in their faith; it will fortify our relationships; it will transcend challenging circumstances; it will increase our desire for God.
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints… (Ephesians 1:15 ESV)
How has your faith surprised you? Has it led you to unexpected places? If you were imprisoned, could you pray for others as Paul did?