“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36)
The number of Christians in the world murdered for their faith has risen 60 percent. On average 13 or more believers are killed every day around the world. A person’s faith is no longer respected as one’s personal choice. It has sadly become a reason for judgment. I remember when I became a believer over fifty years ago, when I told my mother of my new relationship with Christ, she took it as a personal rejection of her and her church that she brought me up in. So, she told me that she was going to have me removed from her will because she “didn’t want me giving her money to my church.” I responded by telling her to do whatever she thought she needed to do.
Because persecution for one’s faith is on the rise, have you ever thought about what limit you would put on your life in order to follow Jesus Christ? There is a man in the New Testament who was willing to place everything on the line to have a relationship with Christ. We’re not given his name, only his occupation. We briefly meet his family, but they too remain nameless. This nameless man with the nameless family worked for the Roman government during the time of the early church. I’m talking about the jailor who was on duty the night Paul and Silas were imprisoned in Acts chapter 16. It was a night like any other night in a Roman prison. The difference was that Paul and Silas were singing hymns rather than bemoaning their situation. The other prisoners were listening, when suddenly a severe earthquake rattled the very foundations of the prison. At that point, all the prison doors were shaken open, and the jailer woke up. With all the doors open, he assumed every prisoner had escaped. He also knew if they had, the Roman authorities would put him to death. So, with only one option in his mind, he drew out his sword and prepared to kill himself. At that point Paul shouted, “don’t harm yourself. We’re all here.” What the jailer did next was what is the most amazing part of this story. He immediately asked Paul what he needed to do to be saved. With all the fear and confusion that must have been running through his mind at that moment, his salvation was the one thing he wanted a solution for. Next, he washed Paul and Silas wounds, took them to his home, and fed them. That was the point his unnamed family became part of the story. Now I want you to think about these events, because I don’t know about you, but two questions come to my mind. First, if he left the jail with Paul and Silas, who was left to watch the other prisoners? Second, why did he leave the jail and not ask Paul and Silas to get back in their prison cells?
We do not have answers to either of these questions at this point. Nor does scripture tell us the results of this jailer’s actions, or what became of him and his family. For now, they are simply questions we can add to our “ask when we get to heaven” list. But we do know this, the jailer didn’t care what happened to him after meeting Jesus Christ as his Savior. Persecution for his faith had little effect on him. What he cared about was eternal, not earthly.
How about us? Does persecution for our faith really affect us? By the way, a few years after coming to faith in Christ, my mother told me that she had seen a difference in me since I got “religious.” She didn’t know it, but that was the best compliment she could ever have given me.