Not bound

Sometimes life feels small—our view restricted to four walls. It buries us under the weight of crammed schedules and piled-up expectations. Instead of being where we want to be, waist-deep waters resist the force of forward movement.

For the Apostle Paul, incarceration for the cause of Christ changed his approach to mission, but not the mission itself. Instead of going out into the world to share the Gospel, his letters traveled for him. He sent others in his place, while he sat in chains.

In his last letter, Paul encourages Timothy, his son in the faith, to focus, endure and remember the power of Jesus Christ.

Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead and descended from David. This is according to my gospel. I suffer for it to the point of being bound like a criminal, but God’s message is not bound.

– 2 Timothy 2:8-9

God’s message is not bound.

Even though Paul was suffering in prison, tied up for the sake of the Gospel, bound, He knew God’s message wasn’t.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, can stop God’s message of hope, forgiveness, redemption and love. It cannot be contained—no matter how the world tries. Soldiers may have killed Jesus, but there was nothing that could stop Him from coming up out of that grave!!

Today, no matter how small you feel or how constraining your circumstances, keep your attention on Jesus. Find your freedom in the unbound Gospel. Jesus is alive, and His grace is enough for you and for me!

My Gospel

How does the Gospel affect your life? Is it the defining centerpiece of your life? Is it your very life?

Paul writes an interesting phrase in his last letter to Timothy describing the Gospel:

Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead and descended from David. This is according to my gospel.
– 2 Timothy 2:8

Why did Paul refer to the Gospel as “my gospel”? He didn’t write that story. Paul wasn’t the originator of the Gospel. The words seem strange, almost sacrilegious. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not the gospel of Paul.

Note the start of the verse: keep your attention on Jesus Christ. Paul’s aim in training Timothy in the faith wasn’t to exalt himself, it was to lift up Jesus. Paul called the Gospel his because it was personal to him. The Gospel didn’t just detail historical events, it showcased the grace poured out for Paul, and for the world. The Gospel Himself met Paul personally on the road to Damascus and completely transformed his gaze, his purpose and his future. The Gospel, Jesus Christ, was now his life. Jesus changed him. This wasn’t only the disciples’ Gospel, or the early church’s Gospel, this was his Gospel.

Paul was a picture of the Gospel.

We need to hear that, and we need to own that.

If the Gospel is merely words preached on a Sunday morning, we’ve missed it. If the Gospel is a set of morals to live by, we’ve missed it. If the Gospel works for us while we’re at church, but is optional at work, we’ve missed it. If I embrace the Gospel but still maintain my rights or remain in charge of my life, I’ve missed it.

The Gospel becomes mine when Jesus is my life. I cannot live without the reality of my resurrected Lord. His truth and His grace should dictate my comings and goings.

My life must speak aloud, in word and action, of Jesus the One and Only.

And even when I fail and my faith falters, Jesus doesn’t. When God looks at each of us, He sees a person for whom He sent His Son to die. He sees someone He lovingly made to have a personal relationship with Him, a person He longs to accept His salvation. Jesus loves us, and willingly gave up everything to make a way for us all, whether or not we accept His gift of grace.

My life is a picture of the Gospel. So is yours.