A parable by Ellen Lebsock
Huddled together in small groups along the walls and in the corners of a dimly lit, filthy room the hostages cling to each other in terror. Some quietly pray for the strength to survive another day of captivity. Others cry and moan, as if in pain. Many are wounded and bruised. All suffer from malnutrition. They’ve been imprisoned here for years.
For these prisoners every day is much the same as the day before. Awakened at dawn by the voice of their captor, crackling through hidden speakers, they are reminded of the penalty for attempted escape.
“You are captives in my domain. You are imprisoned here because of your opposition to my war effort. You will remain here until you willingly accept my philosophy. In the meantime, should you be so foolish as to attempt escape, you will find there are sensory devices surrounding the room. The buildings are guarded by armed patrols of my soldiers. In the unlikely event you should reach my perimeter guards alive, you will be beaten, tortured, and returned to this room. Don’t even think of freedom. For you, it does not exist!”
As the speakers crackles into silence, the hopelessness of their situation overwhelms the captives anew. The grim message has produced its desired effect. They will wait fearfully for a guard to bring in the day’s single meal of watered down broth and rice gruel. The taste and consistency of this mess is remarkably like paste and the few bites each one receives is barely sufficient to keep them alive another day.
A stiff gust of cold wind whistles through the cracks around the locked door, rattling the tiny window and making the roon’s miserable inhabitants ever more desperate. The weather is frequently cold and damp now. Their garments – tattered, dirty rags, offer little protection from the wind’s invasion. The cold seeps deeply into the room and into their bones.
A rat rummages in the far corner for a scrap of something worth making off with, but there is nothing. Practically unnoticed by the room’s occupants, it slips out between the floor boards where it entered. At first, the stealthy comings and goings of the rats brought dread to the hostages, but now, with sight and hearing grown dull with despair, the rat’s activities are hardly more than a familiar nuisance.
As darkness approaches once more, the prisoners of the locked room begin to steal their minds against the horrors of another night in captivity. At night, in total darkness, fears are magnified a hundred-fold by their imaginings of the captor’s plans for their future. There is no hope and no prospect for a brighter tomorrow. Covered with this blanket of gloom—they sleep.
Suddenly, without warning, a loud pounding on the door!
A voice shouts: “Awake! Arise!”
What horror can they expect now?
The door is thrown wide, and standing in the glare of its brightly lit opening is a man they have never seen before. Taking a step or two inside the room that has been their prison for so very long, he looks at them in what can only be described as utter astonishment.
“Why are you cowering in the dark behind an unlocked door?” he asks.
“NO! That’s not possible! The door was locked! And guarded! We are hostages of war and have been held prisoner here for years.”
“You have been deceived!” The stranger tells them.
“Your captor has made you prisoners of your own fears! I hold the keys to this door, and I disarmed the guards long, long ago. You are FREE! You have been free throughout your captivity. You only needed to open the door and walk away from your fears!”
O captive, Awake, Arise!
Open the door to your personal prison and walk out
into the beautiful, healing light of God’s Son.
Push past the fear and imaginings,
examine your heart and soul in the light of His Word.
“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you FREE.” John 8:31-32
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1-3
“Who is this Christ, anyway? And what has he ever done for me?” A surprising question coming from anyone who professes a belief in God! And still not so surprising when I stop to think about today’s concept of God… “a higher power… a spiritual guide… guru… out there… somewhere… type of guy”! Then again, maybe this is a question religious people have been asking since the day Jesus went to the cross. That would explain Paul’s words to the Church at Colossae:
Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He was born before creation began, for it was through him that everything was made, whether heavenly or earthly, seen or unseen. Through him, and for him, also, were created power and dominion, ownership and authority. In fact, all things were created through, and for him. He is both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation. And now, he is the head of the Body which is the Church. He is the Beginning, the first to be born from the dead, which gives him preeminence over all things. It was in him that the full nature of God chose to live, and through him God planned to reconcile to his own person everything on earth and everything in Heaven, making peace by virtue of Christ’s death on the cross. Col. 1:15-17 Phillips
That should give a fairly good explanation of WHO Christ is. . . Now, about what he’s done for you. . .
You yourselves, who were strangers to God, and, in fact, through the evil things you had done, his spiritual enemies, he has now reconciled through the death of Christ’s body on the cross, so that he might welcome you to his presence clean and pure, without blame or reproach… Col.: 1:21-22 Phillips
Simply put, Christ died on the cross so that you (a mortal being) can be reconciled to his Heavenly Father (a spiritual being), able to live life as the adopted child of God, enjoying all the eternal benefits of His kingdom. A difficult concept to grasp? Perhaps… that’s where faith and trust come into play. Paul told the Christians a Colossae he always prayed for them like this:
And so. . . we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened in all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified (modified) us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col.. 1:9-14 RSV
This then will be my prayer for you, too. Thank you, Lord, for what you’ve done for us.