Originally posted on Facebook September 6, 2018
“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”Philippians 1:12-15
I spent some time using Lectio Divina to engage this verse. In Lectio Divinia, you approach the scripture openly, quietly, and in stages. In one, instead of trying to find meaning, you simply listen, and see if a word or phrase stands out.
For me, it was “because of my chains”.
As I pressed in, several things stood out. First, there’s the standard “God can use hardships” piece. Good stuff, but doesn’t hit the full depth.
Going deeper, the passage makes it clear the breadth of God’s work through those chains. Things happened that hadn’t in Paul’s standard missionary journeys; people’s lives were changed that may not have interacted with Paul otherwise. Paul had no say or control over this. He didn’t choose the chains; he didn’t choose how people responded to the chains. All he could do was accept the context and challenges that God was inviting him into.
The result? The gospel was advanced, people knew Christ was at work amidst the chains, most of the brothers and sisters became confident in the Lord, and they are daring to speak the truth of God without fear.
Instead of God working through one man, he used the chains — something most would instinctively avoid and claim to be bad — to raise up a Body of people.
We can fill in the blank with our personal “chains”: “because of my _____.”
If I’ve been following God, then the hard situations I find myself in can be rightly claimed as God’s, contexts in which He can work creatively and powerfully. He can use my chains in ways I could have never accomplished with my own plans and skills.
He is all about defying the norm, confusing logic, and showing He’s more powerful than we understand. It is bigger than us; Paul’s chains extended his ministry beyond himself, influencing and incorporating more people than he could have on his own. How might God be using your “chains” to do the same?
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