“Set the captive free.” I’ve had this thought in my mind the last couple of days. It first came to me after reading the following verses near the end of Philippians—the apostle Paul’s closing remarks:
Give greetings to all the saints there in Christ Jesus. The brothers with me here send their greetings to you. And all the saints greet you, especially those who belong to the household of Caesar. And now may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (Phil. 4:21:23).
What catches my attention is this: “especially those who belong to the household of Caesar”(v22). Caesar’s house represents the Roman guard who, whether on this occasion or some other, is responsible for Paul’s imprisonment and eventual execution. Yet somehow somewhere among the imperial ranks belief has taken hold. The power of the gospel of grace that is the kingdom of righteousness for both Jew and Gentile has infiltrated the hearts and minds of the opposition. The ministry of reconciliation has slipped through the prison bars undetected. A covert rescue mission is well underway and the real captives are being set free.
It would appear that the early church apostles believed “set the captive free” is an actual assignment, actually quite doable—possibly less “spiritual” than we first think and perhaps more “practical” than we’d like own up to. We no not for certain Paul’s method of ministry on this last leg of his race, but for us “set the captive free” may be as simple as a word, a comment, a card, a call, an apology, an encouragement, a favor, a deed, a prayer, an obedient service of no real benefit to you personally except that God has ordered you to do it.
See, here’s the deal. All around us and even in our own personal lives there are beautiful people all bound up, caged, and holding defensive posture. These may be persons of authority. They may persons under authority, receiving orders, or still searching for their place in life. Today, this week, or in the coming year, you just may be dropped into someone’s life like a secret spy on a rescue mission. You may be spotted, seized, and ushered into rooms you never could have imagined. But here you are. You are not the God of heaven and earth who establishes righteousness, but you are an ambassador with keys in hand. So quit stalling. Work the mission. Set the captive free. Reconcile that which is lost. To love your unlovable neighbor as yourself may require you slip love into the room. So be it. Tuck it up your sleeve. Bury it in your sock. Do whatever it takes to disarm the opposition. For although the eternal outcomes are up to God, we do know that Caesar’s household’s already been compromised.
Dan Behrens, Co-Pastor, Evergreen Church