Here’s a sight: Two men who’ve just been publicly beaten “with many blows” with rods and who’ve just been put in stocks in the “inner prison” of a jail, and who have no idea what’s going to happen to them next (Acts 16:23-24). And Acts 16:25 says that at about midnight, these two men were praying and singing songs of praise to God while “the other prisoners were listening to them.” This is a story about Paul and Silas, and as I’ve heard people describe what a great example these men are to us, the focus has always been on what they were going through and how well they responded. But I can’t help but wonder, even if just for a moment, about the perspective of those other prisoners. What were they thinking? What a sight it must have been to see these guys singing and praying as the spilled blood dried on their backs and into their clothes. It must have impacted these on-lookers, for as an earthquake shook the place and everyone’s chains were unfastened and the prison doors were opened, all the other prisoners stayed in their places, probably looking to Paul and Silas for cues. What were they thinking of these God-centered men who didn’t escape when provided with such an opportunity? As I ponder this, I find myself musing about whether I live the kind of life that leaves people wondering about me the way those prisoners must have wondered about Paul and Silas. I don’t think I do. But if I’m honest, I know there’s a desire in me to live in a way that is so totally different than what the world around me would expect, that it gets people thinking… in a way that is so God-oriented that it causes the godless to pause and consider God. If people find me — or any of us as God’s people — truly praising God whatever our circumstances, what a sight that would be! And by God’s grace, those people around us will stop and listen until they see God at work opening their prison doors!
© 2008 by Ken Peters