by David Thurman
via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 58, No. 3, Jan. 16, 2009.
We have to admit that there are a lot of religions in the world today. We hear a lot more about Islam than we ever have before. We see people seeking new-age solutions to their spiritual needs. We see many people simply reject all religions, claiming there is no God.
So, why should you be a Christian? What exactly do you get out of it if you decide to be a follower of Jesus, the Christ? There is an interesting episode recorded in Acts 16 that will help you see why you should become a Christian today. Paul and Silas have been in a large, Roman city called Philippi. They converted a woman named Lydia and healed a girl who was afflicted. Now, they are in trouble and under arrest. Beaten in the Roman way, they are given over to a jail keeper who puts them in the deepest, darkest part of the jail.
Read about the things that took place in Acts 16:22-35. I have included the entire story so you can see what he received, you will come to see why you too should be a Christian.
"Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
"But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here."
"Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."
"Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.
"Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, "Let those men go."" (Acts 16:22-35)
It Can Solve Your Problems
This jailor was facing a huge crisis. It was not his fault, but he was going to be in big trouble, at least he thought. The law for the Romans was simple and direct If a prisoner you were guarding escapes, you have to take his place and punishment. This jailor knew the law, knew that with the entire jail open all of his prisoners were surely gone and that he would die in their place or serve out all of their jail terms. His life was in a full-blown crisis.
Yet, Paul stops him from killing himself. By killing himself he would assure his family could survive. But, Paul stops this and tells him that all the prisoners were in fact still in the jail. In spite of the earthquake, open doors, loosened bonds, and a chance at freedom, no one was gone. This impressed the jailor to the point that he took these two prisoners, Paul and Silas, home with him and tended to their stripes.
I don't know what crisis you might be facing. I do know, that like the jailor, it all may seem hopeless to you. But, in Christ, you have a friend who will help you survive whatever crisis might come along. And, as on that night in Philippi, God may have a ready solution for you. Whatever your problem, Christ holds the answers. If you become a Christian, you will have the power of the Creator of the universe on your side. What problem can stand up to Him?
It Can Help Your Family
Under Roman law, if the jailor committed suicide his family would inherit his property. If he was jailed, the state could confiscate everything he owned as punishment. So, this man starts to take his own life in order to help his family. But, these two Christians who had been singing and praying while in jail prevented him from hurting himself. Instead of providing for his family by dying, he will survive and be part of his family by living. The good news of Jesus helped this man and his family.
Again, I cannot know all the problems your family may be facing. Maybe your marriage is not as good as you would want. Maybe your children are not as happy or responsible as you would like. Maybe your parents are not very good parents. Many, if not most, families have problems. What I do know is that when you come to Christ, God has solutions for every family problem.
God knows how to raise children and teaches us how to do better to do just that. God invented marriage and knows best how to strengthen your relationship with your spouse. God knows about disobedience and rebellion and can help you navigate the challenges of family. You should be a Christian because it will help your family be stronger.
It Can Brighten Your Day
Imagine how delighted this jailor felt when he realized he wasn't going to have to die. Instead of killing himself and leaving his family, he goes home and is with his family. That must have been a great moment for all of them. And, by the time Paul and Silas have shared the good news of Jesus with this family, they all came to Christ and became Christians. The text tells us, they were overjoyed with the results of that day. My guess, they never looked back without a big smile on their faces, every time they remembered this night that started so badly and ended so well.
This is so important. No other religion, no other philosophy, can do for you what Christ can. He will fill your heart and life with a joy that is beyond understanding. You will enjoy an inner peace that cannot be found in any other way of life. You will have a reason every day to smile, to be happy and enjoy your life. Wouldn't a brighter, happier day feel good to you? Then you need to become a Christian.
It Can Bring New, Better Friends
This jailor probably lived a rough life. After all, in spite of his position and income, he would spend most of his time with the criminals and dregs of Philippi. How many violent crooks had he guarded over the years? How many lying, conniving thieves had he spent hours tending to them in his jail? Like police officers today who work in vice investigations, this jailor must have had some pretty rough and harsh times.
Now, he imprisons two nice guys. They are no trouble. All they do as they sit, bleeding and hurting from their beating, stuck in the stocks that made rest impossible, is sing and pray! That must have made an impression on the jailor. We know the other prisoners were noticing. Then, the jailor did something unusual for a man like him, he takes these two prisoners home to meet his family! He saw that they were a better class of people.
This is one of the great advantages of being a Christian. You will be around people who have high standards. People who value life and other people. You will be around folk who smile and enjoy life, in spite of its problems and challenges. Wouldn't you feel great if you could sing and pray without hesitation even when you felt trapped or are in pain? That is what Paul and Silas offered to this man, and he jumped at the chance to become a Christian. So should you.
It Can Save Your Soul
In all honesty, my guess is that this jailor never gave his "soul" much thought. He was probably just a hard-working family man. But, in the crisis brought on by the earthquake, his values are turned upside down. Now he is thinking about his soul and the souls of those in his household.
Here is the greatest part of being a Christian. You don't have to wonder what happens when you die. You will be trusting in a Savior who has already died, and who has overcome death. When life does its worst and you face your own death, you can still have the joy this jailor had that night. You will have nothing to be afraid of.
So, do you want to face crises without fear? Do you want to have a happier home life? Do you want to enjoy each and every day? Do you want to hang out with good people of good values? Do you want to know that death itself is not going to win in your life? Then you need to be a Christian.
Do What He Did
The jailor had his life changed. He listened to Paul and Silas, and in faith, he responded. Instead of the callous man who had locked the preachers up, he became a kind man who took them home and treated their wounds. He changed his outlook and his life. And, along with those in his household who had faith, he was baptized. Then, al that we have discussed became his. He saw, even in the midst of this crisis, that Christ could and would meet all of his needs. He knew that he wanted to be a Christian, and why.
How about you? Do what he did. He didn't wait to learn a lot more. He was baptized immediately. He didn't argue, he was baptized right then, the same hour of the night. He didn't go looking for other alternatives to faith. He became a Christian, and so should you, today!