I have never been to jail, nor is it a goal of mine. I can’t tell you what it’s like to be a prisoner, but with the advent of reality TV, we can get a glimpse of prison life.
Prisoners are confined to locked cells with a few exceptions. They are allowed out to eat, to exercise, and in some cases, to do jobs within the prison. But the rest of the time, they live behind a locked door. Doesn’t sound like a place I’d want to be… how about you?
But as I reflect on life in modern America, there are few differences between prisoners and suburbanites. We get out to eat and go to work (and maybe exercise), but the rest of the time we lived behind a locked door. Maybe the only difference is they were orange jumpsuits while we wear whatever we want.
Not convinced you’re actually in prison? Try these tests:
- The Garage Door Test: When you open your garage door, how long does it stay open? Is it up and down like the drawbridge to a castle under siege, or is it a vertical welcome mat? (If you’re like me, you can even time the garage door to be shut before you get all the way in the house!).
- The Mailbox Test: When you see others out checking mail, do you wait until they’re gone to go check yours? (This is especially good at “community-style” boxes with several boxes at a central location).
- The Doorbell Test: When your doorbell rings, do you see it as an opportunity, or an interruption? And when was the last time you rang someone else’s doorbell?
Yes, I’m in prison. But the locks on my doors are on the inside, not on the outside. It turns out I am my own jailer.
Last week I made fun of the disciples for still being behind locked doors:
“That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders.” (John 20:19 NLT)
The Sunday being discussed is the Sunday after the Crucifixion. Of course, it was also the Sunday that Jesus rose from the grave, but the Disciples didn’t know about the resurrection yet. One’s perspective can change radically with a little information.
And so they sat behind a locked door… in fear… with locks on the inside
… just like me.
What changed for them? (See John 20:19-22)
- A risen Jesus appears and sends them out to spread good news that sets others free
- They receive the Holy Spirit that will guide, counsel, and teach them how to be free
- They are sent as the Father sent His Son to break down barriers with the most powerful weapon of all: love.
What if I did the same? What if I met a risen Jesus, received the Holy Spirit, and was sent in love? Maybe I could break free and help others do the same by creating more room for community in my life. What if I:
- Invited my over-worked, exhausted neighbor over for a nice home-cooked meal?
- Move my garden to my front yard where I might encounter people more often, instead of the back (have to credit Jeff Meyers of Auxano for this idea!)
- Move my Barbeque Grill to my driveway and invite others to BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat… or veggies!).
I struggle to break free daily. But at the same time I realize that the Prison of Me is not Christ’s plan for community. I’m not content with the way things are.
And most importantly, I don’t look good in orange jumpsuits. How about you?
How will you break free from the Prison of Me? What other ideas have you instituted to create true community? Add to the repertoire with your remarks!