Many years ago, Michael Jordan was the player in the NBA. Everybody wanted to be like Mike. In fact, a sports drink company even made a commercial with a song entitled “I wanna be like Mike.” Everybody wanted to be like Mike. They printed the MVP trophy at the beginning of the year with his name on it. He was an uber star who led his team to six NBA titles and made everyone around him better.
Paul was in chains for his faith. He was on his way to Rome to appear before Caesar for his “crime” in believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was being held in Caesarea while the Romans figured out what the charge should be in front of Caesar and every leader that came heard his story. King Agrippa, somewhat knowledgeable in the Scriptures, called for Paul to tell his story and the meeting ends with this interchange. “Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’ Paul replied, ‘Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.’” (Acts 26:28-29)
Imagine a walk with Jesus that strong. Paul in chains when he’s out of his prison cell, and probably while he’s in it as well, shares his story with the King and then lets him know that life as a follower of Christ is so good, that he wishes they could all be like Paul. There is no remorse for his situation, Paul doesn’t even feel sorry for himself. It’s almost as if Paul had forgotten the chains as he spoke passionately about his savior until perhaps he heard the clank, or noticed the king’s eyes widen as I said, “I pray that you might become like me.” I can imagine a wry chuckle before he added, “well, except for these chains, of course.”
Too many people are in chains today: chains symbolized in the story “A Christmas Carol.” Our sins chain us down and rob us of the ability to have true joy. Paul may have been weighed down with physical chains, but in that room, he was the only one who had true freedom. Today, I say that I wanna be like Paul. I would take the physical chains, were that the price, to rid myself of my spiritual chains forged in my sins. God offers great freedom through the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Would you be like King Agrippa, weighed down with his spiritual chains? Or would you be like Paul, freed from his spiritual chains and free to walk with God? With Paul I say, I pray that you might become like me….
Lord God, thank You for taking away my spiritual chains because of the grace of Jesus Christ. Thank You that I can walk with You every day and that I have freedom in You. I couldn’t have done that on my own; I could only have that freedom because of the price Jesus paid on the cross.