When the Apostle Paul finally reached Rome, he was treated well in the time before he got to see Caesar. He lived in a house, not a jail, and had a guard living with him. He was free to come and go. He invited the Jewish leaders in Rome to his house. He introduced his talk in an interesting way: “Everything I have done, I did for Israel—I’m on Israel’s side, not against her. I am a hostage here for hope, not doom.”

Unbelievers have an idea that faith in Christ is all about rules and laws and condemnation. Religious people focus on keeping things the same. They don’t like change of nonessentials. For the Jewish leaders, it was the accumulation of centuries of rules and regulations, which represented religion, not faith. In our world today, it could be anything as ridiculous as changing the color of the carpet in church, updating an old hymnal, putting screens in the sanctuary, or saying the Lord’s Prayer in language people speak nowadays. It’s great to be (and stay) stuck in faith. It’s horrible to be stuck in religion.

The real issue is hope. Secure faith and refreshed religion bring a new sense of hope to the common hopelessness of society—even the tyranny of government rulership like Rome in the first century.

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