And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered. (Acts 28:30, 31 NASB)
Have you ever wondered what happened during those two years of Paul’s ministry? For years Paul was going throughout the known world sharing the gospel with Jews and Gentiles alike, preaching grace to all who would believe. And it seemed as though everywhere he went there were people trying to take him, to prevent him from being able to share. He was arrested, beaten, stoned, and plotted against. There were even times when riots would occur in the city against what he was proclaiming. The Holy Spirit prevented him from entering certain cities too. The enemy kept trying to hinder him.
It’s interesting that it wasn’t until he was arrested that he was free to preach. Unhindered. Open. No threats. No riots. No one in the way. It was during this time that he wrote some letters to churches in other areas. Finally, unhindered sharing of the gospel. Can you imagine how he must have felt? And no one could do anything about it?
Paul was an evangelist. He made it his job to go from one place to the next to share the gospel. He was hindered in many places, and even had to flee some cities in order to save his life. This man who was so devoted to the grace of The Lord that he couldn’t and wouldn’t keep quiet about it.
For some reason that’s not the way it is with us. We have all the freedom we’ve ever needed to share the gospel with everyone, and yet we’re hindered. I think we hinder ourselves. We’re afraid. But Paul even told us that if God is for, who can be against us? What do we have to be afraid of if God is on our side? We live hindered when nothing is there to hinder us.
What would Paul have to say to us in our current state? What would have happened if Paul were living today in USA?
Sometimes it takes a terrible situation to make a good thing happen. Look at Paul. Most of us would think that being arrested, even house arrested is a bad thing. But what we might think of as a bad thing God can definitely use for good. In Paul’s case, he could share the gospel unhindered. He wrote letters to churches that we read in Bible, books that we wouldn’t have if he didn’t get put under house arrest. Not only that, he was protected by a Roman guard to write those letters and do ministry. This is not the kind of situation we would think is best.
One of the letters he wrote while in Rome under house arrest was to Philippi, a Roman city. He wrote of his struggle to decide what would be best for him to do; to go on to be with The Lord or stay. He spoke of his influence while in chains. The whole Roman praetorian guard heard the gospel! That’s about 10,000 prominent and powerful men in Roman society, not to mention their families. These men were so powerful that even Caesar was a little afraid of them. While in office he had to win the approval of these guys, which may be one reason why Nero, a child molester who was also living in a homosexual lifestyle, began a persecution of Christians because the guards would take a stand with a view of faith in God, confronting his sin and he didn’t like it. (Just a thought.) Paul’s influence for Christ spread into Caesar’s household even! This kind of gospel-sharing isn’t what we might think of if ever put in a similar situation.
What I’ve come to realize is that every one of us has chains we’re bound with. Whether real ones or figuratively, those chains can hinder us or, when given to God, can be used by Him to great lengths in powerfully spreading His grace to the lost. Maybe being chained is okay. Maybe the things we believe that hinder us are actually gifts to powerfully spread God’s grace. Maybe it’s God’s special way of protecting us while we complete His mission. Maybe that’s why some of the bad things that come our way still come. Maybe God is giving us a bigger and greater opportunity.
What do you think?