SUNDAYInspiration: I drive through the West Bank, past many walls. Meet people who have been crying for justice and freedom for many years as I remember this story: Acts 16:16-40
Paul and Silas stumble through the corridors of the prison following the guard. The strokes on their backs still hurt. Finally, they reach their cell, deep inside the prison. As soon as they enter, they are knocked to the ground and their feet are closed in a block. Inevitably they lean their hurt backs against the wall. How did they get here anyway? Hadn't they done something good and freed a woman from her obsession? But apparently the lack of freedom of the women had been the source of income for others.
Now they were here, in the backmost and dirtiest cell. The name of Jesus had released the woman but was also the reason why they were now in this cell. Innocent, locked up with a bloody back, goodbye freedom!? Contrary to their situation, Paul and Silas make their decision. Around midnight, praise and prayer sounds through the hopelessness of the prison walls. The other prisoners had never heard anything like it. Suddenly the earth trembles, the doors jump open and the chains of all the prisoners fall to the ground. At this moment Paul, Silas and all fellow prisoners experience the meaning of freedom that Isaiah had prophesied about Jesus: "The Spirit of the Lord rests on me, for the Lord has anointed me. He sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim to the prisoners that they should be free, and to the blind that they will see to bring freedom to the oppressed." (Isa 61,1; Lk 4,18)
The prison warden, who just held the keys to freedom in his hands, lies trembling before the prisoners. "How can I be free?" Paul and Silas immediately share the liberating gospel, and everybody in the house got saved that night.
The story of Paul and Silas shows that freedom is not determined by circumstances, but by the person of Jesus. The obstacle to freedom lies not in external circumstances, but rather in the refusal to live as a Child of God. Freedom is the perspective we take. Do we look at the circumstances or rely on Jesus' promises for us and our Identity in HIM?