Looking Outward – God in Prison

by Angela Derrick
July 2010
“Don’t bring God into this,” she said indignantly. I looked at her silently, but what I was thinking was this: if this isn’t a place for God, what is? If God isn’t welcome here, then He must not be welcome anywhere.

What we were talking about was my involvement with the man who would later become my husband. This was prison, specifically Death Row, a world unto itself.

It set me to thinking—if Jesus were to show up today, would He gather a similar group of disciples around Him as He did then? Those undesirables that society had scorned and cast aside? Thieves, money-changers, tax collectors, whores, adulterers, and murderers?

Who would He gather around Him today if He were to show up? Would He go into Beverly Hills or some other high society neighborhood and surround Himself with upper class folks, or would He go out into the world and put together a group just like He did back then?

I tend to think that’s exactly what He would do. And in America where according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics (BJS) in 2008, over 7.3 million people were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole at year’s end. He wouldn’t have that far to go.

We keep locking up more people, building more prisons, moving our society towards becoming more and more secular. And we’re doing a bang-up job. Just look at what we’ve created thus far. Do you think we’re pleasing God? Are you proud of the society you live in?

We keep fighting to keep God out of the areas we want to keep Him out of, but that’s not how He works. We fight to keep Him out of our schools, out of our workplaces, but we sure want Him to bless our money.

He doesn’t want us to be “Sunday Christians”—go to church on Sunday and then spend the rest of the week doing whatever the heck we please.

Folks, it doesn’t work that way. There are no places that are off limits to God. We can’t pick and choose; You can come in here, but not there.
Not bring God into this? Not bring God into a place where people have been locked up against their will, sentenced to be punished for their crimes? Not bring God into a place where He is most needed by the masses, a place where people are literally starving from lack of human contact, lack of a kind word, where grace is practically nonexistent?

Does God only show up when we are decked out in our Sunday best and the pastor preaches to us from a pretty pulpit at the front of the church? Or does He show up if our chapel is a cinder block cell and the pew we kneel upon is a hard cement floor? Does God show up then?

Here is the answer:  Yes. Not bring God into Prison? No way. Come on in. The door is wide open.

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