As I sit here and write this blog on a Sunday night, I have had something on my mind that has been eating away at me for the last few hours. At the beginning of the day I had a completely different blog topic that I was going to write about. But after watching the Minnesota Vikings win on a last second touchdown, the topic changed abruptly. No, I didn’t want to write about the football game. What is now on my mind is how some Christians poorly interact with others on their everyday life in prison. This has actually been on my mind for a while and I feel the need to write about the unfortunate circumstances that happen here on a daily basis.
How this all came about was when the Vikings scored a touchdown with no time remaining to win the NFC divisional playoff game. An inmate who calls himself a Christian ran up to the front of the television, turned to face the other inmates and started screaming out a number of profanities to everyone watching the game. This is the same man who wishes injury to players and vocalizes it, as well as makes fun of you when your team loses. After his rampage settled and he sat back down, another inmate who is not a Christian says to him, “And you call yourself a Christian?” He had no clue how to respond. This is an everyday occurrence, not just for this particular inmate, but for many others who call themselves Christian as well.
I once approached another Christian inmate on his continuous negative behavior. He responded to me by saying, “It’s OK. I ask God for forgiveness.” HALT! STOP! FREEZE! No, it’s not OK. This is exactly how I used to think before getting arrested. I thought I could smooth things over with God by asking for forgiveness after sinning. And then I would continue living my sinful life, repeating the same process all over again. I didn’t feel the need to change because I knew God was going to forgive me. I definitely did not walk the talk.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people here who are called jail house Christians. Jail house Christians are those who attend church, Bible studies, and prayer groups almost daily. But when they leave these gatherings they go back to their evil ways. They want others to see how good they look by attending Christian activities, but don’t want to change their behavior.
Non-Christians are very leery when inmates call themselves Christians. To them, it is just a title and considers them to be fakes. They don’t see them acting any differently than the rest on a normal basis. When I invite non-Christians to church, that is the number one reason why they reject my offer – they don’t want to see who the hypocrites are. It hurts me because I know there are true Christians here that walk the talk and live a Christ-filled life. How does the saying go? “One bad apple can ruin the whole bushel.” In other words, one’s perception of the hypocrites who call themselves Christians can keep them from following Christ.
A few months before getting arrested I went on a date with a girl I met on-line. She was a Christian and our faith life was a topic of conversation at one point during the evening. I can still remember the conversation as if it was yesterday. She was asking me about my walk with Christ and how my busy schedule and everyday entertainment can get in the way of being a witness to others. I honestly told her, “I still sin and do many things that God disapproves of. But I ask for forgiveness, and He forgives me, so it’s OK what I do and how I act.” WHAT?!?!?! I can’t believe now that I actually said that to her, let alone believed it. I can still see her reaction today. She was dumbfounded. Needless to say, that was the last time I talked to her. Hmmmm…..wonder why? I was definitely on my way down the wrong path, going deeper and deeper on the road to prison. And look where I ended up! My response to my date that night is the typical response I get when I call other Christians out for their continuous purposeful unchanged lives.
By all means I do not consider myself better than anyone else. I am a sinner and still sin and need forgiveness all the time. But the bottom line is….now I am sincere with my confession, and after confessing, I do my best to stop sinning and change my behavior and thoughts to the way God wants me to live. If I’m going to confess, I’m going to change. There are many fake Christians, ones that just want to have a title and look good. There are others who believe that Jesus died and rose and want to commit their life to Him, but just do not feel the need to change. Then there are those who have surrendered their all to Him, believe that He is the Name above all names, and will do anything they can to lead others to Christ – living a Christ-filled life. By their fruits you will recognize them. Matthew 7:16.
God definitely challenges me every day. He tests me with my interactions with other inmates. But He is helping me grow and mature, to help me teach both Christians and non-Christians how to live. I ask you to take time this week to pray for all the inmates and officers on this compound that they will be influenced in a positive way by someone that will lead them to starting their walk with Christ. This place can be changed by Christians living their lives as a witness to Christ and by your prayers as you ask God’s Spirit to come into the hearts of all who need to know Him.
If you confess your sins, God who is faithful and just, will forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9