In many jail and prison sessions bringing music and a message of hope, I have found myself repeating this truth:
“The only gut-difference between me and you is you got caught and I got saved.”
I mean it.
In my B.C. years I played plenty of illegal games- from vandalism to drugs, sex, thievery, blowing off legal working hours on my paper route… even ripping off a person or two in drug deals at the end of those days (I was the dealer). My sense of “legal” much less “ethical” could have landed me in jail any number of times.
Then there was the company I kept back then. From driving stolen cars, accessory to breaking and entering, really there were a long list of things I either perpetuated or was part of that could have landed me in juvenile hall, jail or even prison on many occasions.
Not to mention ethics (nearly NONE…) which in the face of temptations, never much “got in my way”. When you are your own God, that’s the way things are.
All of this is some 43 years in my past, pre-Christ-follower.
I was, in fact, my own mobile prison, or put another way, both prisoner and warden of my own captivity.
Lies? I would tell my mother I was in Milwaukee when I was in Madison (80 miles apart) in a drug house, going to block parties and dope events with other burnouts like myself. For a couple of days.
Guilt? Plenty. Guilty? Absolutely. I made a whole lot of selfish and stupid choices, nearly died over several of them. There were times I was so loaded if someone claimed I had killed 3 people the day before I could not have honestly denied nor affirmed the reality of it either way, I was far too high, eventually unconscious and just had no memory of what had happened after a certain point in that past day.
That was then, and how I THANK GOD!!
Here is what Paul writes to arguably, one of the most blessed, gifted yet chaotic, messed-up city full of Christians. The context is clearly about believers, not pre-believers by the way:
1 Corinthians 6.9-11
9. Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10. thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. 11. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
I do not exaggerate even a little when I say I participated in each and every one of the things mentioned here, at least -would have- in proclaiming myself bi-sexual appx. the last 2 years in high school. That, and the only other exception was adultery, which according to Jesus we do simply by our eyes and lusting after someone else’s spouse. For that matter, any sexual contact you have with another outside of marriage is often in the end, likely sex you had with -someone else’s future wife or husband-.
See, a biblical, Christian relationship with both Christ and others is not always “whatever” nor lauded as pure and wonderful within New or Old Testament teaching. Neither of us may like it, but God is not a designer God whom we can pretend thinks as we do about issues.
And the kicker in the text I quote… whew… Paul is writing Christ-followers, such as they are in terms of maturity, immaturity, obedience or slacking in it towards God and His Word, saying “THIS is what some of you USED TO BE”, past-tense. Hmmm? He has just said peeps who practice these will not inherit the kingdom of God.
There are in my view, massively slack arguments that the scriptural phrase “kingdom of God” never ever refers to heaven… but I digress.
WHO IS KING? WHO “calls the shots” in my life, in the churches, in The Church?
“THY will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” is the prayer Jesus taught His listeners, learners (disciples) to pray.
I do think my major problem has always first been… my self. It is the worst train-wreck I have even come close to knowing, and a great deal of personal choices and decisions come down to facing this truth.
Either we are spiritually and practically formed by the Word… or we form it. Either we read and to the best of our honest abilities, appropriate what we understand in the Bible or we create our own. Or discard it entirely.
Welcome to the jail/prison cell of self-design. Been there, done that.
“For those who have ears to hear, let them hear”.
Yes, for the LOVE of GOD… in view of God’s love for you… surrender to Jesus and watch what He does in your life. The true God is the only competent GOD there is! You and I? We build pretty good prisons, only we name them “freedom”.
Jesus said: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8.31,32
Things to consider as we consider the paths we choose.
Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn