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Prisons – The Impact On Us All

May 31, 2013

There are many instances where prison is used in the Bible and it is often thought that it is a symbolic representation of how we are imprisoned within out worldly bodies or in bondage to our fear. This may very well be true; in fact, I think that those points are very true when it comes to the human condition as it relates to God’s master plan.

It is truly amazing how God can put things in our path so that we can see things in a new light. I reached one of those moments earlier today and felt the need to explore it further. I was inspired by an article that I read that was published through a Linkedin group. I have included a link to the article should you wish to read it.

http://www.prisonpath.com/foxes-guarding-the-chicken-coop-2/What is prison like

My view of the article is not consistent with its intended purpose, though I do not have any issues with why it was written or that intended message.

Since this is such a broad message, it will be written in parts and will be published over the next several days. It is my hope that it will bring some additional ideas to those that God has called to minister to those that have are in chains and that we all can look at this situation in a way that is as close to the way God views it as possible.

Points can be made that will cause this to be perceived as a secular message but it is not. To do that I would predominately concentrate on the debilitating effect that having so many imprisoned has on our economic system. Many of those currently employed and do not have a criminal past would welcome the prospects of receiving more $40,000 per year for their sustenance. There could also be a discourse on the effect that this will have on the future of our culture. There is a very high risk of fragmentation and compartmentalization of what already is a polarized society. The term sub-culture seems to be best suited for what is being created and happening. The existence of cottage industries that are focused on providing services for the members of this socio-economic group, by their very existence, widens the gulf between the subculture and the primary culture (mainstream – if indeed there is such a thing).

Picture if you will those effected in an ancillary fashion by the consequences of anti-social behavior, imprisonment. We see victims on all sides of the issue, to the exclusion of the offender themselves who may or may not have been victimized but the prior victimization does not provide them a “free pass”. After all, it is sin and sin is not forgiven lightly. The price of redemption is extraordinarily high, but it has been paid in full.

The Bible as I have mentioned has numerous references to prisons, whether you explore the Old or New Testaments. Each time that it is referenced God is using the circumstance of those either in prison or associated with the prison to be glorified. The place that I am lead to start deals with the concept of the prison as it relates to sin. Sin in itself can be a prison. It isolates us from our God and His love. Is that not what the physical placement does to those that are incarcerated? Are they not apart from the ones that that love them. Did they not bring it on themselves as all sinners do?

There are examples of incarceration in the Bible where the person is without guilt and is imprisoned for reasons other than their inappropriate actions. I am thinking about the imprisonment of Jeremiah as one such example. Here is a man that because of Israel’s lack of faith and devotion to their God he is imprisoned. He went before the king of Judah and told him and the people what would happen regarding the Babylonian invasion. God had given Zedekiah and the people of Israel an opportunity to surrender and therefore be saved instead they decided to fight.

This is not a typical vision we have when we see individuals that either are in prison or have recently been released. We see the crime that they committed as defining who they are. In no case is the crime representative of who anyone is, it can be a reflection of their poor life choices and a forecasting tool of what will happen again if they have not taken steps to change. They can be like Israel as it rejected God’s word and offer to spare them. They can simply choose to remain in the same situation waiting for the Babylonian hoard to plunder and burn their city. God’s offer of salvation requires minimum effort on our part yet it involves a sacrifice that many think is too great to make. We must give up us!

As I have mentioned at the beginning of this piece that I was stirred into action by an article that I read. This article talks about the effect that the criminal culture has upon those that are charged with supervising and monitoring the inmates. The title implies that this prison is being run by criminals. I submit that as any time that we find ourselves in a situation where we are put in close proximity of sin, we are in peril. Our strength can fail at any time. How many examples come to mind about those that work within the criminal justice system that fall prey to temptation? The lure of the world is great. Satan has an effective arsenal with which to ensnare you. However, we have God’s promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”**

The presence of God and his generous promise does not mean that you will necessarily seek Him and His mercy. God has provided the way to succeed. We must remember that.

** http://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/10-13.htm – Pulpit Commentary
Verse 13. – But such as is common to man; rather, except such as is human; i.e. such as man can bear. The last verse was a warning; this is an encouragement. Having just heard what efforts even St. Paul had to make to run in the Christian race, and how terribly their fathers in the wilderness had failed to meet the requirements of God, they might be inclined to throw up every effort in despair. St. Paul, therefore, reminds them that these temptations were not superhuman, but were such as men had resisted, and such as they could resist. God is faithful He had called them (1 Corinthians 1:9), and since he knew “how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter 2:9), he would surely perform his side of the covenant, and, if they did their parts, would stablish and keep them from evil (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Also. The mode of deliverance shall be ready simultaneously with the temptation. Away to escape; rather, the way to escape. The way to escape is different in different temptations, but for each temptation God would provide the special means of escaping it.

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