Why Sing in Jail?

It is one of those stories we know so well that we do not even have to think about it very much in order to teach or preach on it. The story of the Philippian jailer is that familiar. Paul and Silas in jail, the earthquake, and the jailer finding salvation. But when I really think about this story, there are two things that always surprise me. It just is not the way I expect the story to go. And there are two things that seem like natural developments in the story, that I am not sure are all that natural to us today.

Paul and Silas were worshipping in jail. Singing and praying. Were they praying for deliverance? If so, they sure missed their opportunity. Were they singing songs of lament? I don’t think so. There was something captivating about what they were doing. I wonder if they were singing songs of praise. Praising God in the midst of the storm as it were. Realizing they were forgiven by God’s grace and choosing to express that by the way they lived. Even in prison. Loving God with everything they had no matter what. Maybe praying for strength and courage. Maybe praying for the other prisoners. Or even their jailers.

They did not leave the jail when they had the opportunity. Is it possible they were thinking about what the consequences would be for the jailer? Did they decide to do what was best for him? Were they loving him as they would love themselves? Is this what believers are expected to do? Love God and love the people in our world? Even if that world is a cell?

The prison warden was so convicted by their lives and actions that he immediately wanted to know what to do to be saved. Is that not the reaction we all want from the people who come to know us? That they will see our lives of worship, receive our gifts of service, and want to know the reason for our hope.

So Paul and Silas shared Jesus with their jailer and those around him. Shared the word of the Lord. Baptized them. Then all joined together in a meal of celebration. We too must be ready to share Jesus when the opportunity arises.

Live, serve, speak. All in the name of Jesus.

And the kingdom will grow.

Header image credit: Jar (). Liberation. November 2, 2014. Retrieved from flickr.com. Some rights reserved.
Steve loves to tell the story of Jesus. He is the Director of Ministry for Hope for Life, a Herald of Truth Ministry, and serves as an elder at the Southern Hills church of Christ in Abilene, TX. He is a popular speaker for Lectureships, seminars, and retreats, and his latest book is “Can I Tell You a Story?” He and his wife Marsha have two children and five grandchildren.
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Author:  Publish Date: February 9, 2017

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CHARIS hosts conversations of and about Churches of Christ. The website is intended to support education for Christian life and community through contemporary discussions and historical sources that variously witness to the gifts (“charis”) of God among Churches of Christ, especially their plea for visible unity among Christians through ongoing renewal and restoration of Scriptural beliefs and practices among God’s people.

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