Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls
No Respector of Persons
Prisoners whose hearts are changed by the love of God begin to see the world around them from a totally different perspective. Their hearts have changed so they see things as God sees things from a loving point of view, without the prejudices that once held them in bondage. This is a humbling experience.
The Apostle Peter came to the conclusion that God is no respecter of persons after he received a vision to take the Good News of Christ to the household of Cornelius, a Gentile (Acts 10:24-34). This took great courage on Peter's part, since it was unlawful for a Jewish man to keep company with a man of another nation. It was an act of love totally out of the ordinary, all because God had shown him in a vision to not call any man unclean. This is still true today inside or outside of prison.
Jesus made it clear to a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus that, "... God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have ever lasting life" (John 3:16). God loves all mankind, no matter what, but in order for them to not perish by taking their own judgment for sin, they must believe and receive God's sacrifice of His Son in their place. This is divine love, which is completely self-sacrificial.
The Bible is God's love story to all mankind from Genesis to Revelation. If we did not have this vision of the redemptive revelation of God's love through Jesus Christ, we would indeed perish (Proverbs 29:18). The Apostle Paul stated: "But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
It is most important for prisoners to see themselves loved by God. The prison administration will not show them this love, because that is not their purpose. The prison chaplain is hired to bring forth a religious program and is often limited in how much affection and care he can show a prisoner. It is up to the inmate Body of Christ to demonstrate God's love and express His love to each another and to those who do not know Christ.
Because of fear and a lack of boldness, prisoners can become powerless to express God's love. It takes the anointing of the Holy Spirit to give this boldness to witness God's love in power. We have to be willing to take the limits off God. Like the Apostle Paul proclaimed, we are to say: "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor heights 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 8:37-39).
The more we concentrate on God's love for us, the more boldly we share our faith. Paul wrote to Philemon, saying: "... that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus" (v.6). The more we share our faith, the more effective we become in ministry. A new boldness comes forth in ministry as we concentrate solely upon every good thing which is in us in Christ Jesus.
One of my favorite Scriptures in the New Testament is Jude 20,21: "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."
The best way I have found to build up myself in the most holy faith is to meditate on the Scriptures, even memorize them. This is my way of keeping myself in the love of God. Listen to this one: "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:4,5). Can you see how meditating these verses would keep your expression of God's love alive?
An equally important way to experience the love of God is to pray. Let us pray together the prayer that Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus. I believe that our heavenly Father desires to answer it for us as well. "I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will he more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God" (Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT).
I pray this lesson has been a benefit to help you experience the love of God. In our next lesson, I will be sharing on how it takes the anointing of the Holy Spirit to teach you the knowledge of God's love, so you will believe in it and act upon it.