My eyes have been opened to how Christians treat convicts. I used to be one of those people that turned my nose up at the thought of a convict. Why would anyone want to associate with someone that broke the law and ended up incarcerated? Just like many other Christians out there, I thought that I was better than these people. Why would God want anything to do with someone that breaks the law and is a bad person? Since someone that is a convict broke the law, they must not be worthy of God's time or mine.
Growing up as a kid in the Midwest, I was never exposed to criminals. Convicts were what you saw on the nightly news or read about in the paper. These were not people that I associated with. They were probably not the people that I wanted to worship with at Church on Sunday. When someone is different from us, we not only judge them but treat them differently as well. What would you think if someone stood up during the Church service and introduced themselves as a parolee? You might be wondering what horrific crime they committed to be locked up. Is this person violent? Are they going to do something to me? Many Christians treat convicts like lepers in the Bible.
Why do Christians treat convicts differently?
In my line of work, I work with many convicts. I have been in business 18 years and have seen every type of person that you can imagine come through my doors. What I have seen is that a lot of convicts are looking for an opportunity to better themselves. Through my many years in business, I have grown to know many convicts. I can honestly say that some of the best workers and most responsible individuals that I have met have had a previous record.
Until I experienced first-hand interaction with convicts, I admit that I stereotyped them as well. As Christians, we are called to show compassion to others and not judge. I understand the skepticism behind embracing someone with a criminal record. Each individual has committed different crimes and has received a separate punishment as a result. Just like we are all sinners, convicts are equal human beings as well. I am not advocating for an exemption from punishment. What I am however saying is that as Christians, we owe it to every individual to treat them with respect. When we judge others by things that make them different from us, we are not acting Christ-like.
Jesus cared about all sinners.
When Jesus walked on this earth, he chose to surround himself with sinners. Some of his closest followers were a prostitute, tax collector, and a murderer. Jesus did not hang out with perfect people because there are no perfect people. Jesus used people that were less than stellar examples of societal perfection to further his kingdom. Why did Jesus do this? Jesus did this because he wanted to show that no matter how bad of a person you were or what sin you committed, you were still worthy to enter the kingdom of God if you followed him.
Jesus' example demonstrates how we should treat others. Christians treat convicts differently because they are not following Christ's example. Christians treat convicts differently because they are immature in their spiritual walk with Christ. If we want to be close to Jesus, we must strive to follow his example. Shaming others for their sins while ignoring your own is counter to the teachings of Christ. Let me leave you with this set of verses for tonight.
Matthew 7:3-4 NASB 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?