THE LIBERATING “CHAINS” OF VOCATION
(Tuesday, October 10)
“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” (Philip 1:12-14)
St. Paul was bound, in chains, essentially by his vocation, which he followed by his own free choice. Hence his chains “actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,” because of his bold, outspoken faith, which liberated most of the faithful also to be “much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
We may also sometimes feel bound within imperfect systems like a corporation by which we’re employed, a difficult profession to which we’ve dedicated our lives (like a professional sport, the music business, or politics, I’m thinking after watching the Beckham, Taylor Swift, and Navalny documentaries), or a government of which we are citizens, or a family we cannot or will not abandon, or even a church we cannot or will not abandon, even when its leadership has strayed from serving its Lord and its people.
I think that St. Paul’s example, as well as the example of the above-mentioned celebrities, can be inspiring for many of us, to overcome fear through faith, and to be “much more bold to speak the word without fear,” from within whichever system we find ourselves bound, through the boundaries delineated by our vocations. Our God-given vocations, profoundly personal to each of us, might sometimes lead to uncomfortable or even dangerous situations, as in the case of St. Paul or the bold Christian-in-chains of our day, Alexey Navalny. To many outside observers, their journey seems reckless or even pointless, which is why St. Paul takes time to reassure the Philippians as quoted above, and why Navalny says to his followers, “I am not scared. You also – don’t be scared!” (Я не боюсь, и вы не бойтесь!) Bless us, Lord, through the freedom of Your Spirit, by the prayers of our heroes, past and present. Amen!