Friday, Fourth Week in Lent

by Matthew B. Harper

1 Corinthians 13:2 – And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith… but do not have love, I am nothing.

In prison I see what some people call “Christianity” in the way that they despise prisoners. They are quick to cut freedoms, programs, opportunities, and education. They scorn prison ministry as a waste of time. They believe that the Christian focus for prison has to be the ‘eye for an eye’ that appears in the Old Testament.

But in prison I have also found true Christianity. I have seen it in the work of the men and women who come into the prisons to teach the faith, to lift up the men to better lives, and to love them as God does. These people believe that the basis for ministry in prison is ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” These people are not on any crusade to free prisoners from prison, just to free them from despair and sin.

Which side are you on? We are commanded to test all things by the spirit, and we are warned that many will come to us preaching the name of Christ, and they will be false messengers. We are taught to judge what is proclaimed by the fruit that it bears. The true work of God in the prisons brings forth repentance and newness of life. It brings forth not only clean and godly living on the outside, but it brings forth peace and joy. That is the true work of God.

Whatever your knowledge, whatever your faith, whatever your politics, whatever you have, do, or are; if you do not act out of love, then all else is as nothing.

That it may please thee to visit the lonely: to strengthen all who suffer in mind, body, and spirit; and to comfort with thy presence those who are failing and infirm We beseech thee to hear us good Lord” BCP 151

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