Am I a Prisoner of Christ? (Do I want to be?)
This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles (Eph. 3:1).
A few years back, our camp theme was “Bread and Water.” Even Chris, who is one of the nicest people on the planet, groaned when I tried to share my excitement over this idea. I’m pretty sure that others on camp staff were about as thrilled with my idea as Chris was.
I would like to say that I had an epiphany while reading John 6: 35, “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (NRSV). And we did use that as our theme verse, but that is not how I remember my epiphany.
This thematic idea came to me while Chris and I were on vacation in San Francisco. One day, we took the obligatory “cruise” to Alcatraz Island. Somewhere along the tour, I began pondering the idea of being a prisoner for Christ (Eph. 3:1). What does it mean to be a prisoner for Christ? As we walked the prison blocks, the heaviness of the prison and the hopelessness of being locked away began to weigh on me. Once again, I wanted to argue with Paul about something he wrote, “Paul, really. You couldn’t pick a better metaphor?” But then again, Jesus reminds us that we are to take up our cross daily, but I digress.
Back to bread and water … I thought of bread and water being a metaphor for being a prisoner of Christ. Then my brain began connecting the dots to Jesus as the bread and water. Jesus tells us if we eat of this bread and drink of this water, we will never be thirsty or hungry again. The very next sentence begins with “But.” Jesus knew his disciples, like all of us, want signs and proof. Like us, they did not understand what Jesus was trying to tell them.
In that simple theme of “Bread and Water,” I see the two parts of being a follower, a disciple, of Jesus. I see the high calling of obedience regardless of the cost. I also see the promise that we will be fed, and we will never thirst. It is challenge and hope.
I don’t think a group of high school kids wrestled with this double meaning of Bread and Water. I’m not sure they thought about it at all. But when I pull that old camp shirt out of the closet, I am still reminded of that simple slogan, I am called to be a prisoner for Christ, and I have the promise of never being hungry or thirsty again.
Precious Lord, thank you for the calling to eat of the bread and drink of the water that gives life. Help me to fulfill those vows I made to you so many years ago. Help me to live into the idea of being your prisoner for the sake of others.
American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains