So we're talking about Paul and Silas in jail, and these guys were not just in jail - they were in the center chamber of the jail, the worst of the worst. And for what? For causing an uproar, that's what.
It's kind of fun to think about some of the conversations that these two must have had, sitting there together. Chained to one another. It's fun to think about what they might have whispered back and forth, just out of earshot of the guard.
But then again, my guess is that Paul and Silas didn't have a whole lot to say to one another. Most of what they had to say was about Jesus, and that means that they probably spent most of their time whispering with the guard, talking with the other prisoners. They never lost sight of their message.
And then, they started singing.
They started singing hymns, songs for which the words were just in their hearts. They started singing about all of the incredible things God had already done, about what an incredible God He most definitely was.
Then, a strange thing happened:
Their chains fell off.
But not just their chains. The Bible tells us that the chains fell off every prisoner in that jail. The noise was so loud, so startling, that the guard jumped to his feet and when he looked around and saw all of these loose chains laying on the floor, he got scared. He became fearful for his own life. He knew that all of the prisoners either had already escaped or they were about to, and that would mean his head.
Now, there's a long way we could go from here, and we'll get there. But what is important right now is this: when Paul and Silas started singing hymns in that jail, they set every prisoner free. Every single one of them.
Not the prisoners who had been baptized. Not the ones who knew the words to the song. Not the ones who shouted "Hallelujah!" at the end. Not the ones who were paying attention. Not the ones who happened to be awake at the time. All of them. Every. single. prisoner's. chains fell off. Every one.
This is why we can't get lulled into thinking that our faith is just our own, that the things that we do for God and the ways that we glorify God are just about us and our own salvation and our own faith and our own acts of worship. Because the truth is, everyone benefits when we get this right. Everyone's life gets better when we have worship correctly in our hearts.
We ought to be a people who sing and everyone's chains fall off. That's what our faith was meant to do.
Do you believe that?