In preparing this week, it has become evident that there are so many different ways we can speak to this story. Along with exploring more about each person within the Acts 16 story, there are many directions we can go with what it means for us today. In the multitude of ways, explorations and directions that this story can go, each one came back to the same thing: What does it mean to be free?
The story in Acts 16 is fast-paced, with a handful of scenes, and involves multiple people each with their own unique ‘liberation moment’. We are welcomed into three separate journey’s where peoples freedom is discussed and transformation is able to take place. But what was holding them back from being transformed?
For the unnamed female gifted with a spirit of divination, and the jailer instructed to keep an eye on the prison, Paul and Silas break open what it means to not be controlled by systems and structures that hold us back from being transformed by life in Christ.
We are still in our ‘Terms of Resurrection’ series, and it is no surprise that this reading gives us a lived example of what the transformative work of Jesus looks like through the experience of ordinary people.
So what does that mean for us?
What does it mean for us as individuals as well as what does it mean for us as Murrumbeena Uniting? Questions around ‘achievement’ and ‘performance’ are constant in peoples work, relationships and finance. Within the pastoral and therapeutic ‘space’, it has been noted that a global pandemic has ‘locked’ majority of people into a ‘flight and/or fight’ outlook on life. Though this is not inherently bad, we need to recognise that being in this space does not allow for growth, rest and life to flourish (If you want more information on this, then feel free to message through). When we are locked in the fight and flight of life questions of achievement, performance and finances become the dominant system that we define ourselves by, and we try and ‘control’ from. Even more notable is that being ‘stuck’ in a fight and flight system has said that it is near impossible to care deeply and fully about the person next to you - the hard reality of us as a community of Jesus followers, is that we are wholly focused on caring about the person next to us.
So like the unnamed female with a spirit of divination, and the jailer instructed to keep an eye on the prison, what does it mean to be liberated from the systems that stop one from being open to transformation and life in Christ? How can we renew our understanding of achievement, performance and finance so these are no longer the dominant system that we define ourselves by? What does it mean to be liberated from this ‘fight and flight’ stance so that we can respond as a community of Jesus followers — like Paul and Silas — who ‘are slaves of the Most High God’ (v17) wholly focused on what it means to care deeply and fully about the people around us.