It was author, theologian, and former atheist C.S. Lewis who wrote: “Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”
It was Pastor’s comment during his sermon this morning about how we Christians are to be just that that got me thinking about a story in the Bible that I had read just this past week as part of my morning devotions.
It’s the story of Paul and Silas and their jailhouse experience.
Acts 16: 25-34 “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”
Paul and Silas had been thrown in jail because they had ruined the livelihood of some gentlemen who were making money from a woman who was fortune-telling in the market.
It is in their darkest hour that their “Christ-likeness” shows. Instead of pouting about their situation, they began praying and praising. And their prayers and praises released God’s power. And the power of God rocked that jail, not only freeing Paul and Silas from their chains, but everyone else who was in the prison as well.
The other prisoners who were freed didn’t run away, which to me would be a natural inclination. Why? They had been, as verse 16 tells us, “listening” to Paul and Silas. No doubt the other prisoners had been impressed by the Christian model that Paul and Silas were presenting. And the jailer? Well, he was very impressed. So much so that he seeks God right then and there and becomes a Christian himself. Their words in verse 31 in the King James Version read: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” In other words, ACT on what the power and the “Christ-likeness” that you’ve seen demonstrated. And, he did, assuring that he and his household of a place in heaven.
He trusted in the simple fact that Jesus lived and died for him so that he could have a personal relationship with God…which, in the big picture, is exactly what God wants from each and every one of us. We need to believe…and act on what we believe.
As Norman Vincent Peale states it: “The gateway to Christianity is not through an intricate labyrinth of dogma, but by a simple belief in the person of Christ.”
And that, my friends, rocked that jailhouse!