In Mark 5, we see the story of Jesus healing a demon-possessed man. It says that "This man lived in the tombs because no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him."
It struck me that the people of the town had tried time and time again to help this man, and quite obviously themselves as well, by attempting to tie him up with chains. So often, I think of helping people by trying to help them get rid of their "chains" that can hold us back to our past. In this case, however, chains were the best solution they could find.
It made me think about why we get stuck in "chains" in the first place. I'm using the word "chains" in a metaphorical sense, speaking of addictions, behaviors, mentalities, and other unhealthy ways of living that we adopt into our lifestyle to help us cope. They are different for each person. Some deal with stress or pain by grabbing a cigarette, a drink, junk food, or the remote control, but often we choose to put on a chain of some sort over our heart, mind or body as a way to numb and "put a band-aid" on the real root of the problem.
Many times this may not even seem like an intentional, deliberate choice, but thinking about this made me realize that I choose a chain far more often than I would like to admit.
The thing that really stuck out to me is that the chain can be broken in two ways, one far more healthy than another. The demon-possessed man had reached a point where he let the evil within him break through the chains, lashing out and driving him to a life of seclusion and torment. The only other option that he saw was to live a life of numb submission, literally a prisoner to his own chains. It was only Jesus who could provide another solution to this man's problem, breaking through the evil and the chains that tried to hide it, allowing true freedom and life to reign in this man once again.
As we've been praying and dreaming about our new church, a section of scripture that has continually been coming to mind is when Jesus speaks about His sole mission in coming to Earth. In Luke 4.18, Jesus is quoting from Isaiah when He says, "The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor."
It is our prayer that as He continues to free us from these chains, that He'll use us to do the same for the people of Philadelphia. We shall be a chain gang no longer, but like the man in Mark 5, we will run back to our homes and families and show them all that God has done for us. And the world will be amazed.