Believers are sometimes asked by God to do things that are uncomfortable. A few have been asked to do things that are mind-numbingly dangerous for the good of the gospel. Old testament prophets have gone toe-to-toe with hundreds of prophets of Baal in a contest of “my God is bigger than your god” (and won decisively, by the way), been swallowed alive by a great fish (and sustained inside it for days) before deciding to comply with the directive to preach repentance to a huge and hostile city/state, strode, uninvited, into the chambers of a king (that alone, earning them an instant death penalty) then proceeding to tell the King what God has ordered the King to do. The list goes on.
The most striking example of this in the New Testament is the Apostle Paul. He sets out on three missionary journeys, traveling all around the Mediterranean rim, telling the inhabitants of Jesus and the salvation He offers. To the Jewish leaders, this was an unpopular message and they tried several time to kill Paul. They chased him out of cities, they even charged him with sedition before the Roman governor in hopes of having Paul put to death.
Paul was arrested by the Romans and incarcerated: first for two years in Caesarea, then another two years in Rome, awaiting an audience with the Roman Emperor. While imprisoned in Rome Paul wrote a number of letters to the churches he had planted, encouraging them to hold to the original Gospel he had preached to them and avoid being led astray by infiltrators teaching a twisted gospel.
Everywhere he went, Paul preached Jesus. And many heard, and believed, even among his captors.
In Philippians 1:12-14 Paul states that during his time in the prison in Rome his guards became his captive audience as he preached Jesus, and “the whole palace guard” had come to know the cause of Christ. At the end of this letter he wrote, “All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.” (Phil 4:22).
In this simple concluding statement, Paul offers his fellow believers great joy in the knowledge that the Gospel had reached into Caesar’s very own household.
Near the end of his life, Paul wrote to his apprentice, a young man he regarded as a son. In 2 Timothy 2:9 Paul states that even though he (Paul) is in chains, “the word of God is not chained.”
Even in the darkest of prisons, Paul carried the Word of God in his heart, shared it freely, and it worked in the lives of those who heard it, enlarging and spreading the body of Christ.
We should ave the same perspective. Regardless of what happens to us, the one thing no one can take away from us is the Spirit empowered Word of God within us. May we all continue to enlarge and encourage the body of true believers until Christ returns to claim His people.