Time = Love: A Simple Way to Reach the Forgotten with Christ’s Love
Our lives are often consumed in daily routines that keep us constantly busy. The days, months, and years relentlessly march on as we look back and wonder where it all went. Many of us have friends and families, co-workers and church groups that keep us fully occupied. It seems that everyone close
to us is vying for some of our time, and unfortunately, as life goes on we have less and less of it to give.
So when someone from our inner circle is struggling in their faith, having family problems, fighting temptations, or dealing with grief, we have no problem showing our love and support by taking the time to reach out and help. We do this in many ways: by offering a few kind words, giving some much needed advice, engaging in Bible Study together, or sharing a prayer. More often then not, it’s the small simple things in life that end up meaning the most to the people around us.
But I wondered; how many of our good works bear fruit outside the small circles that encompass our lives? Do we spend any of our time to reach out to those who are truly unapproachable? This week I couldn’t help but thing of all the people who are rejected in our society. My thoughts were with the outcasts, and the ones a lot of us either don’t, or would rather not notice.
I took to prayer and asked the Lord to reveal His teaching about the thoughts and questions that were in my heart. Turning to Scripture, I quickly learned that Jesus invites the tax collectors and sinners. (Matt. 9:9-10) And in verse 12, He tells us why: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Jesus is the champion of all who are rejected and outcast. It’s a good thing, too, because not one of us is without sin, even if we’re sometimes fooled into believing otherwise.
When I think of the many downtrodden in the world today, I think of all those who live their lives behind bars. Did you know that tonight in America 2.2 million men and women are incarcerated? That’s more than the current population of San Diego, CA and Detroit, MI combined!
Of this vast number, more than a few do not have any friends, family or church groups on which they can rely. For these, there won’t be very many kind words spoken tonight, and probably no helpful advice on how to live life beyond the walls. Some will have Bible studies and most will pray, but this rarely translates into a committed walk with Christ once they get out. The sad fact is, a lot of these men and women will come home in worse shape than when they went in, and some won’t come home at all.
Besides the obvious failings of our criminal justice system, I think the thing lacking most is a message of hope. Will you help fill that void this month and spare some of the time I was referring to earlier? I would like to urge each one of you to send an anonymous letter consisting of a prayer, a copy of your favorite Scripture, an encouraging story, anything you deem appropriate and that’s uplifting. It’s easy to find an inmate locator on the Web for any state you choose. This will give you names, ID numbers, addresses, and photos. (Talk about a captive audience!)
All joking aside, to someone who is incarcerated, a simple anonymous letter can mean the world. It says to the person, “Someone who doesn’t even know me took the time to do this. It’s a message that they are not lost and forgotten. It’s a message that there is still love and hope in the world. You have the power to change the course of a person’s life you don’t even know. Remember, we don’t need anyone to recognize our charitable deeds. Besides, the ones who seek glory from men have their reward.
Unlike the Pharisees, let us embrace the tax collectors and sinners. I want to thank you for taking the time to consider my plea, because tonight, while you are at home reading this…I, unfortunately, will be one of the 2.2 million.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Stretch our vision beyond the walls that divide and separate us. Let the light of Your Son Jesus Christ shine brightly in our lives as we reach out to those in need. If it be Your will, oh Lord, let our letters soften the hardened heart. Renew the hope of those who suffer in failure and disappointment. And let the fire of Your love inspire faith through our Lord Jesus Christ…Amen.
To read Robert Stroud’s amazing story of how he found Christ in prison after the darkest season of his life — a season that led to his arrest and incarceration (but ultimately to his salvation) — click here.