Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2010
Scripture: Romans 8:1-17.
After a 12-hour standoff in a Filipino tour bus, eight Hong Kong tourists died when a disgruntled ex-police officer took the people hostage. Seven Chinese hostages died as well as the gunman who wanted to get his job back.1
Fortunately, there were survivors. After police officers shot the tires of the bus out, people began crawling out the back door of the vehicle. The bus driver crawled out a window and ran to safety. Earlier in the day the ex-police officer had released nine people including some children.2
Rolando Mendoza stormed the bus carrying an M16 rifle as a way to demand that he be reinstated into his former position in the police force. A couple years ago he was charged with four other officers of robbery, extortion, and threatening a Manila hotel chief. 3
In a similar sense, we live on a planet that has been hijacked. Satan has captured the human race and holds over our heads threats to destroy us. And millions have died at the hands of his cruelty. The Devil demands his position be reinstated. Unless he gets his way, he plans to take the whole human race with him. We are in his trap, condemned to die.
Can we get out alive? Where is the door to freedom?
The Bible says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). In this week’s lesson we will focus on the freedom every Christian may have in Christ.
Our freedom was purchased at an infinite cost. The perfect Son of God stood before the murderous threats of the hijacker and said, “Let all these prisoner’s free. I will die in their place. Your hatred is most directed toward Me. So, unleash all hell’s fury at Me. I will die so that they may live.”
Romans 8 takes you off one bus (as it were) and puts you on another bus. One bus we were born onto—living in the flesh, letting our carnal nature rule our hearts. The other bus is one we choose to get into—life in the Spirit. We do not have power to free ourselves from being hostage to self. We are trapped. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11), to give us power to live in a brand new way.
In this sinful world that is ruled by the Prince of darkness, there is death. Injustice reigns everywhere. The global peace index ranks the Philippines as 130 out of 149 countries 4 when it comes to violent crimes, access to weapons and political instability. Just recently a Methodist Korean pastor was shot and killed on his way to the Manila airport. It is a cruel world.
The Apostle Paul is well aware of this when he writes, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39).
Could you be on a tour bus with a mad gunman waving an M16 in your face, and still have the peace that nothing can separate you from Christ? My heart breaks for the families who lost loved ones in this sad and horrific incident. I want to be safe in Jesus, no matter where I may find myself. In Christ there is no condemning gun pointing at me cutting my eternal connection to God. He loved me so much, that He took the ultimate hit for me, so that I could spend eternity free from evil hijackers.