Most of us wear many different hats throughout the course of our lives. We learn to juggle the joys, responsibilities, and struggles of the many roles we have: parent, sibling, child, employee, student, leader, mentor, friend, neighbor. Each of these roles requires something unique from us, but they also provide us with something special too.
I’ve been studying Philemon lately and have been considering the five roles Paul mentions in these verses:
Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. | Philemon 1:1-3
Prisoner. Fellow worker. Family. Fellow soldier. Church.
Five unique roles with unique demands and unique blessings.
ROLE: p r i s o n e r for Christ
This is the foundational identity of the believer—not that we are held captive against our will or by cruel force or for the crimes we have committed. Rather, that our hearts and minds are blissfully captivated by the love of a God who would humble Himself to enter this world, take our sins upon Himself, and die the torturous death intended for us.
We are prisoners of this Love that conquers all.
A Love so big our brains can’t fathom, our hearts can’t fully grasp. And as prisoners of this Love, our thoughts, actions, words—our very beings, are transformed into something more beautiful than anything ever seen before. This Christ—He gently and patiently makes us like Him. Such is the precious blessing of leaning into our role as prisoners for His namesake.
The demands of this role? That we would live in obedience to God and that in doing so, we would be recognized as those who have been captivated and transformed by His Love. God has revealed so much in His Word. As believers—as prisoners for Christ, we must seek to study and apply that which He has revealed to us, for His namesake.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. | Ephesians 4:1-3
This is the mark of the believer,
a prisoner for Christ:
i n t e n t i o n a l l i v i n g .
It is the natural response to an intentional God who very purposefully sacrificed Himself for us. It is the natural response to a God who has perfectly demonstrated humility, gentleness, patience, and love to us in order that we might be united to Him under a bond of peace.
Prisoners of an amazing Love.
Prisoners for an amazing God.
These are our joys, our responsibilities, and yes—even our struggles. As humans, we will fail to obey perfectly. We will fail to live intentionally. We will be prideful and arrogant and abrasive and impatient and harsh. But this isn’t news to God. He knows our failures and shortcomings even better than we do. He’s a realist. But He is a patient, merciful, gracious realist who loves unconditionally and forgives wholeheartedly. And so our hearts return to consider the joys of being prisoners for Christ!
What love, what peace, what security we have in Him! How incredible that He would give us such a calling, such a privilege, such an elevated position?