Philippians 1:12 I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; 14 and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.
Paul gets put in prison so, out of necessity, other disciples step up with greater boldness. Paul preaches within the walls of the prison and the others preach outside the walls.
There are echoes here of Mark chapter 1, “After John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the good news of God and saying, ‘The time has come, the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the good news.’ With both John and Paul the idea of the authorities was to stop the message by imprisoning the messenger. But in both cases the effort failed miserably. Rather than killing the message, imprisoning leaders multiplied the messengers.
There have always been forces opposing the gospel, including today. I realize that American Christians don’t do ourselves any favors when we fail to embody the message of the gospel. Lately I’m particularly drawn to the plight of the refugees from Central America, particularly children, who are being held pending adjudication of their family’s applications for asylum. The pictures we see coming out of these detention centers are appalling and disgraceful.
I don’t pretend to know the intricacies of immigration law and the ways in which our laws need to be changed to reflect new realities. I’ll leave that to the experts. However, there is something we know as basic human decency which appears to have been tossed aside just a few hours drive from where I write this blog post. It has been reported from multiple news sources that children have been held – for weeks – with no opportunity to wash themselves, or their clothes, or brush their teeth. “There is a stench…” was a comment from a visiting lawyer in Clinton, Texas as reported in the New York Times.
This is happening. In my beloved state of Texas. Perpetrated by the government I once swore to defend as I took the oath of service in the armed forces over 30 years ago.
We treat animals better than this!
And so the question emerges for me. What am I going to do about this? How does the gospel compel me to act? This is not a political question, but a question of faith. It brings me to tears that I am ashamed of my country right now – at least in this particular instance.
We must do better. I must do better. Period. The gospel demands it.