Sunday, August 19, 2007

More On People In Chains...

Recently I blogged about "What Do You Do With People In Chains?" and a friend asked me to share more of my thoughts on this topic.

I can not say that I have personally been tangibly involved in a prison follow-up ministry. I have been a prayer supporter for several though. I have also been closely involved in situations where family members have had to deal with the arrest of a loved one and the results of such a situation.

At one point in my life, I did want a 'sterile' church home. Oh, it was OK if you were a 'saved' ex-con that came to my church and gave your testimony then moved on to your next speaking engagement. I loved it when we learned about Teen Challenge, Nicky Cruz, and David Wilkerson...but I don't think I wanted any of Nicky's friends in my local church youth group.

Then I grew up, got married, and had a son...and over the years my world has been rocked in ways that I could never have imagined. And I realized that we all have our chains...

If we are going to have a sterile church, the church would probably be empty. Let's see who could not go in because of their chains...

How about those that are addicted to food? Or simply overeat on a regular basis?...gluttony is a set of chains...

How about those that overspend their budget? Isn't debt a strong holding set of chains?

How about those that talk about others? Oh, surely you agree that gossip is a hard set of chains to break free from, right?

What about those that fail to give their first fruits faithfully to our Loving Lord?
...those that envy the clothes that others wear?
...those that lust after the pleasures of this world?
...those that have ever been drunk?
...those that are sloppy, messy, disorganized, unclean?
...those that are slave to anything?

Each of us comes with our own set of chains that we have worn at some time in our lives. With God's help, we have broken free or we can break free.

I once heard a lady say, when asked why so many young Christian boys were housed at a juvenile detention center, that it was the work of the enemy... "Cause Satan done got those other boys where he wants them, he wants these boys too." The enemy wants us to continuously wear chains that affect our witness. But our Loving Lord paid the price to free us from all of our chains!!! And if He accepts us just as we are, who are we to judge those that come to our church having had their past chains removed? Regardless of what their chains were...were they in jail?... were they a drug dealer? ... were they an adulterer? ... were they an embezzler? ...were they a prostitute? .... were they a liar? a cheater? a thief?

If Jesus forgave the thief and invited him directly to Heaven with Him, how can we do less than forgive the person who was once in chains (weren't we all) and welcome them into our church?

2 Kings 25:27-30 (New International Version)
Jehoiachin Released
27 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin from prison on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. 28 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king's table. 30 Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Oh you are SO RIGHT. We do tend to judge those who are different, or in bondage, or hurting, or broken, so much when they walk through the church doors. It's a real issue as far as I am concerned and one that "could" be the demise of the church as we know it.

:-) Susan