The criminal justice system is a tough place to exist. I served as a chaplain at a correctional institution, otherwise known as a prison, for several years, and each week I would see the wear and tear on the men as they shuffled to the chapel. Granted, they had a place to sleep and three meals a day, which many down and out on the street do not, but the neighborhood is much rougher inside the bars than outside. The church needs to remember its brothers and sisters serving sentences for crimes they committed. Remember those who struggle.
“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.”
Remember the Prisoners
The church is supposed to be where neglected people like prisoners can be looked after. Back in Paul’s day, the only way that a prisoner ate was if someone brought them food. Most prisons were holes in the ground with bars over the top. To say that the living conditions were bleak would be an understatement. The writer of Hebrews reminds the church to remember the believers who were prisoners and those who were mistreated because we are all one body.
A lot of this today falls under social justice. Look out for the least of these. That is a vital function of the church. We should be advocates for those who can’t advocate for themselves, but we need to draw the line. Some think that social justice, like feeding the poor, will lead people to Christ, and while a fraction may come to Jesus, only those who are confronted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and recognize their sinfulness will experience actual change.
Remember Those Who Struggle
The church needs to look out for the needs of those in the body of believers. That means the widows of age, the down and destitute, and the prisoners. It doesn’t mean that we stop reaching out to the lost and hurting of the world, but we should be a tight-knit group of people who know what’s going on in each other’s lives so that we can react when there is a need. Treat them like the family they are and as if you were in the same position.