My Own Prison
And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” Acts 12:8
Some Christians will teach that when we come to faith, Christ instantly transports us out of the prison of our addictions. These believers insist that because we’re new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), we’re absolutely free from all of our struggles, once and for all. I wanted this to be true, so, when I found myself hopelessly imprisoned again by my drug addiction, I was lost. If Christ set me free, why was I still enslaved? Was I not a Christian? Did I believe something that wasn’t true?
Today’s passage may not be about addiction and recovery, but still, the story provides some useful insight into what God does and doesn’t do for us in our destructive habits and addictions.
In the story, Peter was imprisoned by Herod for spreading the gospel of Christ. Herod had just executed James, and Peter had to think that he was next. That night though, an angel appeared to Peter, waking him up and removing his chains. Peter wasn’t magically transported out of the prison though. If Peter wanted to be free, he had to follow several commands. Get up Quickly . . . Dress yourself and put on your sandals . . . Wrap your cloak around you and follow me (Acts 12:7-8).
Though it would have been absurd to stay in his cell, Peter could have done so. If he’d not been obedient, following God’s commands, he would have remained imprisoned. Even after he got out, he could have turned around and gone back in.
This is where many of us find ourselves. We’ve come to faith and Christ has opened the door to our prison. He beckons to us to freedom. Get up. Follow me. For some of us though, that’s not enough. We don’t want to follow. We don’t want to obey. We just expect God to remove us from the prison. Though it’s absurd, some of us choose to remain incarcerated because we don’t want to do anything difficult.
If we desire to stay there, imprisoned and enslaved, God allows this. He even allows us to go back once we’ve left (Galatians 5:1). If we truly desire freedom from our self-destructive behavior though, we can absolutely find it in Christ. He does, however, require us to follow him, which is often not easy. If we want out of our prison, we must stand up, get moving, and follow Christ to freedom.