What do we do as Christians when confronted with these harsh realities? The Bible urges us to “remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself!” (Hebrews 13:3). Jesus knew what it was like to have a loved one incarcerated. His cousin, John the Baptist, was falsely accused and arrested (and eventually executed). Perhaps this is why Jesus, in Matthew 25, tells his disciples “when I was in prison, you visited me.” As a victim of false imprisonment and injustice, Jesus entered into solidarity with the incarcerated and exposed the flawed justice system of his day. Of all people, Christians should be the most skeptical of prisons. A simple survey of prisons in the Bible will reveal that prisons were mainly used to oppress minorities, exploit the poor, and silence the prophets. And the prison system today continues to do so.
Jesus being a prisoner, or Jesus saying he came to earth to set prisoners free is as Shawn said in the article not mentioned very often in our churches today. When it is they take it out of a literal meaning to water it down to say that we are all prisoners of sin so it applies to all of us. This is one of those instances that I seem to take the words of Jesus much more literally than the so-called ‘literalists’.
I love the further explanation that Shawn gave about this topic in one of his replies to a comment.
The kingdom Jesus is proclaiming is breaking into history and challenging all of our systems of power. The kingdom is not about captivity like the earthly kingdoms but about freedom (spiritual, social, political). I think this should move Christians from supporting (defending) unjust systems to seeking to make them more just, equitable, transformational, and restorative. If we believe in the power of grace to transform then shouldn’t this extend to other areas of life not just private faith?
I don’t know how well-known the Red Letter Christian website is (I hope it is much better than mine 😉 ) but another thing I love about it is that almost all the comments are very civil. The ranters seem to stay away from it.
Shawn is like most, if not all the authors over at RLC, in that he is about living the principles of Jesus instead of just laying back and letting grace flow over him. It is our duty as followers of Jesus to re-establish, if it was ever established in the first place, an equitable prison system. One that does not oppress minorities, exploit the poor, or silence those voices proclaiming such.
I am one of those who believe that when Jesus said he wants the kingdom of God here on earth he meant it. He means for us to do what we can to make that happen. Reforming our prison system is just a small but significant portion of that work.