Sunday, December 4, 2011

Life and Death are Deliverance

Paul did not make his statements in the comforts of a church.

No.  His hands, I imagine, would barely make a fist before all was said and done.

Paul wrote his words in the midst of pain, persecution, and uncertainty.

We must not think that Paul's theology comes from thoughtful, playful brilliance.  No, the words he chooses in his letters, and Philippians specifically, came from the education he received at the end of whips and rods.

Pain gave Paul a different perspective.

As I continue to read, ponder, memorize, and meditate Philippians, I come across a powerful truth.  The words he speaks come across at first glance as witty, clever, and creative--I think nothing could be further from the truth.

The words he speaks are words that come not from wit, but deep, hard fought conviction.  He bled for these words, beaten to believe what he now speaks.

Verse 19

I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

If you are like me, you read this and take comfort.  I have read this literally hundreds of times, and until recently I have always read this one way:  God is going to free me.  I was convinced that Paul spoke of his conviction of God freeing him from his chains.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Verse 20 Paul clearly says that he wants to honor God whether he lives or dies--whether he is freed or not.  So what is he saying in verse 19?

Paul's words speak knowledge that only someone who has bled for Christ would know:  Life and Death are Deliverance.

If God frees me to keep living and preaching, it was God's deliverance.

If God allows my life to end, I am finally free in the more real sense.  Free from the pain that following Christ entailed, free from persecution, freed and in the presence of Christ! 

Deliverance--by life or death.

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