In verse one of the book of Philemon, Paul called himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ. No doubt, he was persecuted for proclaiming Jesus Christ and imprisoned for his faith, he did not call himself a prisoner of Rome. In Ephesians 3:1 and 4:1, he declared himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ as well.
The general understanding of prison is that it is a place where someone is locked up and punished for a crime committed. The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes it as a state of confinement or captivity. A prisoner is seen as someone who has done wrong or broken the law and kept in prison as punishment.
For Apostle Paul, being a prisoner is different. Going by Paul’s understanding, I will describe a prisoner of Christ as someone totally consecrated or set apart for Jesus Christ; a believer whose body, soul and spirit are completely captured by Christ.
It is not about being set apart to bear the title of a pastor, evangelist, apostle, deacon, deaconess and prophet or to play religion, it involves having a relationship with the Lord. Paul was so consumed with Christ that he became completely captivated by the Lord. He had a relationship that had brought his heart, body, soul and spirit into a bondage with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Being in a relationship with Jesus Christ involves personal sacrifice. It takes calculated investments to start and maintain a deep and strong relationship with God. Paul understood how far he went with Lord; surrendering everything about his life to the Lordship of Jesus, seeking to know more about God, bringing his body under subjection and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in and out of season.
Paul made several statements and prayers of commitment to Jesus Christ including:
- “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” – Phil 1:21;
- “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” – Phil 3:10;
- “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ”- Phil 3:8;
- “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” – Phil 3:13-14; and
- “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” – 1 Cor 9:16.
Can you and I say, “I am a prisoner of Jesus Christ”? It is a decision we have to take and with the help of the Holy Spirit make the relationship work. Being Christ’s prisoner entails being sold out to the Lord. It demands that a believer dies to self and worldly lifestyle.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12:24
I urge you to prayerfully meditate on the lyrics of this song by Darlene Zschech (The Potter’s Hand) as you ask God to capture your heart in such a way that you will begin to experience an intimate relationship with Him that you too will say you are a prisoner of Christ.
Beautiful Lord, wonderful saviour
I know for sure, all of my days are held in Your hands
Crafted into Your perfect plan
You gently call me, into Your presence
Guiding me by, Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord
To live all of my life through Your eyes
I’m captured by, Your Holy calling
Set me apart
I know You’re drawing me to Yourself
Lead me Lord I pray
Take me, Mold me
Use me, Fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hands
Hold me, Guide me
Lead me, Walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand