Finding Freedom in Jail

Finding Freedom in Jail

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. Luke 17:33

For the most part, there are two kinds of guys that come to jail Bible study. The first blames everyone else for his incarceration. His probation officer doesn’t like him, his lawyer is incompetent, and the police are out to get him. He can’t accept that he’s the problem and therefore will never change because he can’t see the need for it.

The second kind of guy knows exactly why he’s in jail and desperately wants to live a different life. He takes responsibility for his actions and he makes future plans that are consistent with faith and recovery. It always amazes me when I hear it, but this man will often actually thank God for his incarceration, because without it, he wouldn’t have found the new life. He had to become broken and lost before he could be healed and find his way. It was only in the death of the old life, that he could discover the new one.

This seems to be Jesus’ message in today’s passage. Paradoxically, Jesus taught that in seeking to live our way, that we will lose our lives. This may refer to the afterlife, but it also applies to the here and now. In living only for ourselves, we may experience some temporary gratification, but eventually, we’ll find only misery and death. It’s only in abandoning our way for God’s, that we experience the authentic life for which he made us.

In this light, eternal life isn’t something I experience only after death. In abandoning my addiction – in dying to my old way of life – I began to walk in the new life of faith and recovery here, in this time. In my addiction, I thought I was pursuing pleasure and happiness, but I found only destruction. I couldn’t walk in the new life until I figured out how to stop using drugs.

This is what the one in jail, who is ready for change, has discovered. We must live to die, and we must die to truly live. The Christian life is one of ongoing transformation and renewal. Daily, we must do whatever it takes to abandon the old way of doing things, so that we may walk the blessed new path of faith and recovery. If we want to know authentic life, here and now, the old one has to die.


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