Today I was able to be involved in a work that was completely new to me… And for that, I thank God.
I was nervous. I was standing outside of the door of the sheriffs department, looking around, I felt quite out of place. I stood their clutching my towel, and waiting on the door to open. Finally the door opened and I began to walk down a long hallway, not sure where to go. I finally reached the end and and the woman behind the desk asked who I was there to see. I gave her the name of a man, then she directed me outside where they had set up a make-shift baptistry. I stood near the baptistry as two guards escorted an inmate to my side. I shook his hand, and asked him if he was ready for the biggest decision of his life. He assured me that he was, and right then and there, I baptized him into the body of Christ.
Side note: This was a perfect example of how the Lord’s church should work together. (1 Cor 3:6) You see, a congregation planted the seed of the gospel into this young mans heart through correspondence. Then they contacted a preacher near the prison, he went with one of the elders and continued the study. Then neither were available to perform the baptism on the scheduled day, so they contacted me. 1 planted, 2 watered, and I merely got to witness another soul being added to the kingdom.
But the purpose of this blog is this.. I shook hands with a man who was guilty of sin (just as I am) was guilty of crimes, and was in prison. A few short moments later, I was able to hug my new brother in Christ, who was spotless, and free from sin. Yes, he must continue to pay for his previous crimes, but in the eyes of our Father, he is a brand new son. One who can one day be in heaven for all eternity.
This got me thinking, If he is now innocent, and pure in the eyes of our father, shouldn’t he be pure and innocent in our eyes as well?
1. Many times we are so bad about Forgiving others.
Statements such as, “You don’t understand, my situation is different” are far too prevalent. I know many Christians today who profess their faith and reliance upon God, however they refuse to let go of the grudges that they have held for so long. Maybe someone has cheated them out of money. Maybe someone has ruined their reputation by spreading false rumors. Maybe someone has… Regardless of the reasons of our neglect to forgive, every time we refuse to forgive, we sin.
Matthew 6:15-“but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
2. Many times we are quick to forget that we ourselves.. Are sinners.
I fear that many times it is easy for us as Christians (especially those who have been Christians for years) to start to feel a sense of “entitlement.” Where we begin to feel entitled to blessings both physically, and spiritually. Sometimes even feeling as though we are entitled to our eternal home in Heaven. We would do well to keep the mind of Paul.
1 Timothy 1:15- “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for all who were to believe in him for salvation”
It truly was a great experience today. It was something that I will not soon forget. You see, I was reminded that the forgiveness of God knows no bounds. I was reminded that I too used to be a prisoner. (Romans 6:17) I used to be a slave to sin, but because of the grace of God (Ephesians 2) I have been set free from the bondage of sin.
I challenge you, as I have been challenged, to stop looking at the outward man. Stop looking at the “warts” that each of us have. Or more literally the sin problem that each of us have (Rom 3:23). It is time to start refocusing our minds on the beautiful, precious souls. Who, like us, are on need of a loving, forgiving, gracious, merciful God.
Will you talk to someone about this God, today?