(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:1-3)
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” I love the way this is worded. Not just love one another, but keep on loving one another. Keep it up. Don’t stop. Don’t go do it once and think you have accomplished something, but live in a continual state of loving one another. This is a critical support to our message to the world. Jesus said that the world will know that we are His disciples because of our love for each other. Our ongoing love should define Christianity.
And one of the ways we show that is to be hospitable to strangers. What does this mean in our current culture? I think this has to do with welcoming people who are not in our “tribe.” Everyone is so tribal today. We are all divided into factions. These could be political, ethnic, economic, racial and/or religious factions. Doesn’t matter. What it means is to cross over. Don’t stay with just your group. Be hospitable. Have people from other tribes in your home. Share your wealth. This is another way in which we show the world what we are about. We don’t fight diversity; we welcome it.
And then we get to those in prison and those suffering and are told to remember them as if you were with them in prison and you were suffering too. This is one of the clearest statements of empathy I know of in the Bible. We’ve all suffered to some extent so we can identify somewhat with someone else’s suffering. But prison is a lot harder to imagine if you’ve never been there.
Notice how James says, “remember those in prison.” Think about them. Be conscious of them. Pray for them. Imagine what their life is like. Don’t forget them. This kind of empathy I’m sure will eventually work into action, but it starts with an awareness. It’s easy to forget those in prison because they are removed from society. You don’t normally run across people in prison.
If you’ve never been inside a prison, there are numerous prison ministries in operation, both through churches and independently, that would welcome volunteers to help in various ways, most of which would get you inside a prison to view firsthand what it’s like. Susan Burton’s anewwayoflife.org is one example of making a difference through the prison system. Susan is remembering those in prison by ensuring that they don’t end up back in prison once they are out. Go to the website and view Susan’s brief video to find out more. It will help you remember.
If you live like this, you will deepen as a person. Your awareness of those outside your own circumstances will increase. You will identify with more people. You will walk through life with more compassion. You will learn to see through other eyes.
[Note: If anyone in our community has spent any time in prison and would care to tell their story to help remember others, send me an email.]
Click here for our own interview with Ms. Burton on BlogTalkRadio.
I can never imagine what a prisoner goes thru while in prison no matter how many times we have seen life behind bars played out in the movies or television. However, years ago reading a book written by a famous prisoner Susan Atkins back in 1979 was an eye opener when she talked about being with Charles Manson and the depths of sin during that time and then a few years after being in prison finding Jesus. Until her death she accomplished quite a lot while in prison. This really shows that Jesus loves us all even someone who committed the most awful imaginable but, realized needed to be saved. I think we can all learn from anyone who is in prison if we just open our heart and mind.
How many of us have been, or are, in a non-physical prison?
Who needs a visitor?
Or who should we visit?
Yes, Tim. Good point!