Prison Break: Part One
Paul writes in Galatians 3:23-24 that “before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.” As Paul makes quite clear, this is the Law’s function: to keep us confined and imprisoned (Martin Luther). No wonder we seek to escape the Law! No one loves their prison cell; in fact, some of the world’s most famous stories are about attempts to escape imprisonment (The Count of Monte Cristo and The Great Escape to name just two). The cell is not a room of comfort. Martin Luther writes in his Lectures on Galatians: Continue reading
A pastor acquaintance of mine once came in and collapsed into the chair across from where I was sitting with another friend. He looked at us and said, “I’m done. I don’t want to be a pastor anymore.” He was tired of wearing the masks. I told him, “Don’t play the games,” but I wasn’t that religious about it. I think he thought I was joking—or that I was crazy. (I get that sometimes.) But I was deadly serious.
In the last post, I wrote about a good friend of mine who called it quits and walked away from the faith. I hadn’t heard from him in many, many years but more recently, he’s been on my mind. Then, he called me. Right out of the blue. We haven’t talked in so long I don’t remember our last conversation. I had no idea where he was and I certainly didn’t know how to reach him. But he found me. He tracked me down, found me, and called. That’s crazy, even for a five point Calvinist like me.
My friend walked away from the faith a couple of years ago. Not all at once. It was more like a slow walk. A leisurely stroll. But one that brought him to a bad place. From his first exposure to Christianity and his profession of faith, he was full of zeal. As a young believer myself, I remember one of the first questions that always came from my friend’s mouth when we would see each other was, “What are you doing for Jesus? God’s done so much for you, what are you doing for him? What are you doing to pay him back?” I remember how uncomfortable that made me feel, even as a new Christian and being so young in the faith and naive. It made me squirm. It made me feel guilty and condemned because God had done so much for me and I seemed unable and grossly inconsistent and incompetent in doing much for Him. I eventually started avoiding my friend, at least for the first few minutes after he would arrive. Once the preliminary “what are you doing for Jesus?” Q&A with everyone else in the room would subside, I would emerge from the back room, breathing a sigh of relief and congratulating myself that I had successfully avoided another interrogation. Sad, but true.