Read Philippians 1:12-26
“When I get out…”
We are using those words these days to introduce those things we long to do when the protective restrictions of COVID-19 are lifted. Many of us are longing for the greater freedom that will come when we can leave our homes…when our work resumes…when businesses reopen…when we can go out to eat…when we can travel without restriction. I think all of us long to “get out.”
I wonder, though, if the apostle Paul may have used those same kinds of words 2000 years ago. To be sure, “when I get out…” had an entirely different meaning for him. He was imprisoned because of his faith. For him, “getting out” would mean leaving a cell and chains behind. I can only imagine how he must have longed to reenter normal life and to get back on the road of his missionary travels.
But, while he may have had a strong desire to “get out,” God’s work was not limited because he was “still in.” In fact, being “in” had caused the gospel to advance (v. 12). The message of the gospel had spread to all of the prison workers (v. 13). Other believers proclaimed Christ with greater boldness (v. 14).
It is that reality that has struck me most as I have processed outcomes of the “stay at home” order. With church doors closed and services online, the gospel has spread. It has penetrated into living rooms among people I do not yet know. And, even though my wife and I don’t wander much from my own neighborhood, we are discovering multiplied opportunities for Jesus conversations with people who are also “still in.”
I like the way Paul expressed it in another letter: “This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.” (2 Tim. 2:8b, 9)
Although I may have felt impeded, the truth about Jesus has expanded.
If God has done so much while we are still “in,” what will He do “when we get out”? Just imagine if we capitalize on greater boldness in the Spirit, greater confidence in the gospel, and greater freedom in our relationships!