When we love one another, we remember we are not fighting for just ourselves, but we are fighting for humanity that the Word calls for in 1 John 4:7.
Did you know that, according to one Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, which surveyed adults across the U.S. in late June of 2020, 31% of respondents reported some form of mental health care symptoms and are in need of proper mental health treatment?
And with the largest mental health institution in the United States being our prison system, the sobering number of unmet mental health needs is heartbreaking.
The beloveds thatBlameless and Forever Free Ministries pours into may be imprisoned and/or recently released from state prison, but the connective tissue of true rehabilitation is in the transforming of one’s mind requiring relational community.
Every individual who has been incarcerated has a great need for appropriate mental health care treatment both during their incarceration and once released back into community.
Let’s face it, if you’ve committed a crime, there’s trauma behind it.
Reflecting on the depth of despair that must have been present on Good Friday, it feels unfathomable to encounter such forgiveness that Jesus extended towards those who not only condemned and executed Him, but the criminals hanging alongside of Him as He awaited His execution.
Here we become so hurt and violated over petty assaults stemming from moments of disregard, gossip, and hurled insults. But to proclaim this unimaginable mercy as one looks down on those condemning Him, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), it’s obvious we have no idea of the resurrection power that is available to us and at work in us.
Whoever thought love, forgiveness and second chances would require resurrection power? We generally lean inward to self to believe we’re only talking about our failures, our sins, our mistakes and our regrets.
Oh, how I want to love like Jesus!
Everything Jesus did for us, He did out of love. God showed His Great Love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). God didn’t just say He loved us, He showed us.
Love is an action that we tend to forget that requires active participation; loving when we don’t feel like it. We want it OUR WAY AND WHEN WE FEEL LIKE LOVING!!!
Easter shows us the depth and width of God’s Great Love. The Bible says in Psalm 57:3 that God will send down help from heaven to save us because of His Love. That’s what Jesus did on Easter. Jesus came from heaven to save us because of His amazing love.
And when they came to the place that is called “The Skull,” they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on His right and one on His left (Luke 23:33).
Amazing how Jesus is still showing His Love as He takes the works of the crucifixion and turns it into the first “Christian community” placing emphasis on the criminals alongside of Him.
A Christian community is when two or more are gathered together. Jesus established the first Christian Community with prisoners. The Word declares it, For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
Jesus may have appeared insignificant to the world; yet, He is our greatest gift that keeps on giving and our greatest advocate! Without His Great Love, we surely could not love. Without His forgiveness, we truly could not forgive and release the imprisonment of rage and bitterness.
This is the beauty and power of the resurrection as Good Friday Meets Jesus On Death Row. When Jesus stretched His arms out as wide as the cross, He was saying, “I love you this much! I love you to eternity. I love you so much, it hurts. I love you so much, I’ll die for you so that I won’t have to live without you.”
Knowing I’m loved like that, transforms and unleashes courage to be all He says I am and can be!
Isn’t that why we’re told to love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins?
Because of what Jesus did for us on Good Friday, leading to Resurrection Sunday (Easter), forgiveness reminds us that we cannot diminish human beings. “We’re all capable of being better than our worst selves.”
They crucified Jesus with criminals, and there’s good reason Jesus made it a point to draw our focus towards those incarcerated both at the beginning of His ministry (Luke 4:18-19) and all the way to the end (Matthew 25:35-36).
The Church is challenged to Call For Abolition by advocating for the repeal of capital punishment. This requires the Body of Christ to walk out through LOVE human dignity that requires us to build opportunities for healing, community and redemption.
We can’t just pretend to love others. We have to really love them!!! Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good (Romans 12:9).