By Pious Bob
“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. “ (Ephesians 4:1-16 NRSV).
Paul was in prison in Rome as he wrote to the faithful in Ephesus. He saw his imprisonment as an imprisonment in the Lord. He saw prison as a cloister dedicated to the Lord, from which he sent out epistles to the faithful to encourage and guide them in the Lord. Dietrich Bonhoeffer used his imprisonment in Nazi Germany to write letters and diaries that have inspired millions of people. After his death by hanging in 1945 these were published under the title Prisoner for God.
The message here is not to go out and seek imprisonment, but that God works His ways in our toughest times. He is with us in all things. We are all called to be Christian leaders and St. Paul begs us to lead, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” It is not for us to understand the blessings that will come from God’s work in and through us. As humans, neither St. Paul nor Bonhoeffer lived to see the volumes of fruit that was produced by their dedication to the Lord. Their work continues to bear fruit in all seasons and they watch with pleasure from His heavenly kingdom.
St. Paul and Bonhoeffer took strong stands for the Lord. They were willing to risk imprisonment and death to further His kingdom on earth. Bonhoeffer left the security of the United States after fleeing Nazi Germany just a month earlier. As a Christian he knew that he should take a strong stand against Hitler and he should not do it under the protection of America. He should do it among his brothers and sisters in Germany.
In St. Johns Gospel (3:12 NRSV) Jesus tells Nicodemus, a Pharisee, “If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” This is the challenge of the Christian leader, to share with others the merging of the heavenly with the earthly. As Christian leaders this will require us to take a stand. Thanks be to God for our role models like St. Paul and Dietrich Bonhoeffer whose faith is an example to us all.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.