Monday, 26 October 2009

Keeping Christ safe and secure behind bars

christ kept safe and secure behind bars

The uncomfortable truth is that even today we continue to keep Christ locked up and confined behind steel bars of our own making. Sure enough, we like to peer in to the gospels and look into his face, to gaze and see all the divine  love and anguish etched there. We willingly listen to his words of freedom and challenge, and depend on his loving us into life.

But we are too scared to let him out. Better and safer to keep him confined to the pages of a text than actually let him loose in our world, for then we  risk meeting him face to face where he chooses. Just imagine: Christ taps us on the shoulder where and when we least expect it, in that place in our life where we are really unwilling to hear those words we dread: ‘follow me’.

So we keep him confined behind our good intentions and platitudes, our doctrines and disputes, our limited discipleship. He must stay where he is, follow our bidding, be there when we need him, as though he were an exhibit in a faith-zoo.

What a delusion this is. Who is keeping whom safe and secure? It is we who are imprisoned, not Christ. We deny ourselves freedom and life in its fullness. We keep ourselves and our fears locked up; we sentence ourselves to confined lives. We look out at Christ from behind bars of our own making.

And all the time he is looking at us with such love and intention, yearning for us to be truly free.


  1. Your post reminds me of an image I often have of our holding "church" safe in our cupped hands, as if we were holding a piece of cake to take home. But when we open our cupped hands at the end of our long journey, we find we've held on so tight that all we have left is a fistful of crumbs that run through our fingers.

  2. When we see Jesus behind bars, we delude ourselves into thinking He is safely contained. We can often find that we are the ones who are caged, looking out at Him who is free. This is doubly sad because our freedom is His goal: "So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed" (John 8:36). [Duncan MacBean]

  3. Great illustration Rachel; and thanks Duncan for reinforcing so well the message of the image.