Amazing night with my friends Todd Anthony Joos and The Revelators. As usual they rocked the house! Janet and Frank who do sooo much good via Nitelight Arts Center in Berwyn, IL were sweet as always and those who came out were very kind and receptive.
I had prayed if the Lord wanted me to bring a particular message on the night and He immediately took me to 2 John chapter 2.1-6. The core point is for those who follow Him, Jesus is our advocate.
Todd and band and I have joined a number of times doing shows in Illinois prisons. If you’re aware (or not) I’ve long been doing chaplain’s work in Cook Co. Jail with a team, and have done many and many prison sets all over Illinois, Ohio and the world. I can tell you for sure those behind bars need a real, live, flesh-and-blood *advocate*.
When you’re locked up, most of those outside have forgotten you. I don’t think it’s a reach to say most think you’re guilty and deserve nothing less than incarceration.
“For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Ain’t nobody reading this who isn’t guilty but for the grace of God and regardless of the sin, you and I have done ’em -whether the same exact stuff isn’t the point. Oh we want to MAKE it the point “At least I’m not like THAT guy over there” but in those verses John writes to the church that Jesus IS our righteousness. That is, we can not actually BE “self” righteous as such.
Of course that reality doesn’t stop we who are not in custody of the town, city, county, state or federal lockup to get self righteous. WE need to repent as much as those who have done criminal acts regardless of what the actual acts are/were.
I have met so many behind bars inside themselves just as behind actual bars. The issue is our need for deep and indeed eternal advocacy.
Justice without mercy isn’t justice -and if we are brutally honest with ourselves mercy isn’t always our focus for those we discard as “getting what they deserve”. If any of us got what we deserved we’d be sitting in hell right now, not reading (myself writing) some dude’s blog post.
It is the grace of God that Jesus took upon Himself the sins, the accountability for all WE DESERVE. It is the love of God if we are not falsely accused or arrested for things we’ve not done. The reality there are those behind bars that should not be and even those who were executed though innocent. Yet NONE of us are innocent. Thank God Almighty we find forgiveness by and through the Supreme Advocate- the Risen Jesus Christ!
Most of us are not sitting in a cell and suffering -and that’s an accurate term- behind brick-and-mortar walls. So what? Here’s what:
“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” -Hebrews 13.3
If I unpacked this verse alone (there are plenty more in God’s Word that relate)so this would be a much longer post, but suffice it to say there is a reason the Holy Spirit led the writer of Hebrews to place “in prison” and “mistreated” in the same sentence. I strongly disagree via reality and experience if you think the only victims are those outside with regard to mistreatment.
Just one more matter: two things come to mind regarding “since you also are in the body”.
The obvious is that we are also living on this planet in human bodies and prone to suffering whether in a literal or spiritual, emotional prison. The second point is that I’ve met countless numbers of true saints, I mean serious Jesus-loving/following disciples of His behind bars. In fact some of the most solid peeps I’ve linked up with I have seen and chatted with again and again when re-visiting the same facilities. The reality is some of these folks are far tighter with God than those of us on the outside.
Plenty of believers don’t think about these things, don’t know these things, “out of sight out of mind”. Again, consider that Hebrews verse.
As I said last night, I don’t believe all of us are called to do chaplain’s service or regularly visit incarcerated people but they understand the need for advocates like many of us do not and I think it important for me to accent this.
None of us can do it all, fix everyone and everything, none of us are called to and there are truly good reasons at times we cannot do as someone wishes, of course I understand that.
I’ll finish with this- may we do as Jesus told the Pharisees when He called them out: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” In that I, you, all are sinners I think this applies to us.
God help our hearts, minds and lives to reflect God’s heart.
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn