Jesus Unites

“Why do you do this? Are you paid to come here?” an inmate finally summoned the courage to ask me during a few quiet moments on the Kairos Prison Ministry weekend. It wasn’t the first time an outside volunteer had been queried this way, and it certainly hasn’t been the last, for as incarceration serves its social purposes of justice and protection, the loneliness of isolation and the sense of worthlessness may well be the most difficult aspects of doing time. “We aren’t paid anything,” I replied, “We are here because we have experienced the love and mercy of Christ in our own lives, and we want to share it with you.”

Do we need to hear the percussion of slamming steel doors behind us or to behold the glare of gleaming razor wire above us to understand the reality of separation? No, “alone” may be more acute for the condemned, but we’re all acquainted with its pain. We know relational severance at a human level—whether we suffer it through the sting of death or the shock of rejection, or we be the ones who drive the splintering wedge of division—and we also experience it from in the spiritual sense, because deep inside we know sin separates us from a holy God who will not tolerate evil as we do.

Yet in pure love for us, God sent Jesus to close the gap between us. No one can bring charges against us anymore, for it is God himself who declares our right standing before Him in Christ. No evil power can condemn us, for Jesus intercedes for us before the Father. No society or any of its members can marginalize us as losers, for we are “more than conquerors” through Him who gave His life so we may gain ours. And nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I think my newfound friend dared to believe me, for, no longer isolated from care, he began to open up about his dreams, his aspirations after release, and his possibilities in a new life of freedom. Hope was stirring.

Father, thank you for uniting me with you through Jesus, who died for my sins and who raises me to new and forever life in Himself. Send your Spirit to live in me, that I would flourish in the truth of your love; then send me to others with the liberating message of unity with you through Christ. In His name, I pray. Amen.

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:33-39)

Christ in me is salvation.


The Power of “Share”

True confession: I came to Facebook kicking and screaming. It seemed to me social media had pulled friends and family into a virtual vortex, consuming all their time … and maybe half their soul. (OK, I exaggerate.) After standing on the edge of the pool for 10 years, though, it was time to jump in. The water was pretty chilly at first, for I unwittingly dived right into the middle of the Fall 2016 presidential campaign! It’s been much warmer since. (Thankfully.)

Closely connecting with lifelong friends has been a profoundly gratifying experience for me, and it’s been fun to discover people we’ve known in common. “I didn’t know you knew Mike! He was a fraternity brother of mine.” But what has surprised me most about social media has been the power of “share.” We might post something on our page and reach 70 people, for instance, but when others “share” our post with their friends, it very rapidly expands, reaching two, three, or four times our original audience, sometimes even more. It’s amazing! In fact, over the past 14 months, this blog, “A Word for Wednesday,” has reached people in 32 countries and every continent except Antarctica. From Chile to China, from Cambodia to Namibia, from Poland to Peru, from Myanmar to Mexico—it’s all been the power of “share,” one person passing the post to his or her Facebook friends, who shared it with their friends, and on and on. (See above map of countries reached by this blog.)

Jesus understood both the importance of “post” and the power of “share.” He has written on our hearts the message of salvation through faith in His death and resurrection, and He commands us to share it in compassion for others. Isn’t this how we received the gift of a full and forever life in Christ, by people sharing it from person to person and from generation to generation, until one day it touched our soul? The technology has changed over the years, but the post has not, nor has the call to spread its truth. For when people next door and around the world come to faith in Christ, His kingdom expands—a growing global network of people who live and flourish in Him. This is the power of “share,” and He has entrusted it to us, His friends. What an honor!

“I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

Jesus, thank you for friending me and for posting your life-giving word in my heart. Grace me with the strength and joy to share you with others as you direct me today. Thank you for this high honor. Amen.

Christ in me is salvation.

[Click here to read Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus’ story about the power, expectation, and results of “share.”]