You’re locked in here with me!
Have you ever read the first chapter of Philippians and thought, “Man, Paul is just so gangsta!”* That’s what I thought when reading it this morning. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m talking about a holy thug here! A jolly Gospel gangsta! I don’t mean that Paul was beating up on anyone and exerting his physical authority in the jailhouse. No, just the opposite. He was beating his captures into submission with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
In the very graphic movie Watchmen**, the vigilante-superhero (antihero) Rorschach gets locked in prison and ends up surrounded by thugs whom he had put there. Immediately these villains seize upon their chance to execute vengeance. A burly villain with a contraband knife in hand makes a move to shank the newly imprisoned superhero. To the villain’s utter dismay, he gets chucked a beating by a metal-lunch-tray-wielding Rorschach. After Rorschach’s very successful self-defense demonstration, Rorschach calmly begins to speak words of warning to the onlooking jaw-dropped savages who are now wary to pounce. With a crescendoing throaty roar, he growls: “None of you seem to understand. I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with me!”
Now read 1 Philippians in the MSG. Like Rorschach, Paul tells the prison guards who are keeping him locked up, “You’re locked in here with me!” It seems that Paul just can’t help but flex his spiritual muscles. As a result, many of his captures are being converted to Christianity (or at least being given a very convincing opportunity to become followers of Christ). Paul even goes on to talk about death in a downright casual and buoyant way while joyously shrugging off his enemies. He says, “…regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a platform! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his prize. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose!” Those sound like the words of a jolly Gospel gangsta to me!
LORD Jesus, please give us that same buoyancy of spirit that Paul had, that no matter how dark our circumstances, we can not only be doing your work but be wildly successful at it, unashamed and unafraid! In Jesus’ name, Amen!
*Paul was in prison for his faith while writing the letter of Philippians, that’s why it’s called a “Prison Epistle” and that’s why Paul reminded me of the movie clip below.
**CAUTION! Watchman is a horribly graphic movie, both in violence and nudity. I do not recommend this movie to anyone. It’s simply not good for your mind, body, or spirit? Why then do I use it as an illustration? I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t. I’ll have to get back to you on that one. Just know, it’s a very dark and graphic movie, but that one clip came to mind when I thought about Paul being locked in prison for preaching the Gospel! It’s just so GANSTA!