Most of us think being in jail or prison would be the worst possible thing that could happen to us or those we love. We say, “I don’t think I could handle it.” Well, I’m with you on that. I’m not so sure how I would do it either.
There is one aspect of being in jail and prison that isn’t so different than our lives on the outside and that’s dealing with other people. One of the biggest issues I hear about on the inside is frustration and difficulty on how to deal with others. This is something that is the same no matter where you live right? You go to work and there are co-workers you just can’t seem to please or a boss that is unreasonable, so what do you do? You either adjust or you stay in a state of conflict and tension all the time. So, what’s the solution?
As far as being locked up in jail or prison you may be in an environment that doesn’t allow you to get away. You might be in a cell with others that simply will not bend or compromise. Well this is when walking in the Spirit has to happen. You have to learn to live by faith and not by feelings. In a way being incarcerated is like a college course in Spirit living. For us on the outside we would probably avoid the conflicts at all cost and never really learn the lesson. In there you would be forced to deal with it. I’ve seen parents deal with children in this way. They might make their young son and daughter hold hands with each other in order for them to get the message or even go as far as to make them wear a shirt with two neck holes. This way they are forced to be along side each other and eventually they have to come to an agreement and settle their dispute.
If you were to boil the Bible down into one sentence I think it would be something like this. We are to love God and love our neighbor. That’s pretty simple sounding isn’t it? If we are required to love others maybe God is giving us these opportunities for our own good. The Bible also tells us to owe no man anything but to love him. From God’s vantage point maybe prison is the ultimate chance to do that. It’s like a final push to get us to wake up and discover what life is really all about.
God loves us so much he refuses to let us get away without moving us into situations that will require him. The fall deceived us into believing we are independent, and God is all about showing us the truth. Psalm 139:5 says, “You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” God loves us so much he continues to put the squeeze on us until we look to him. For some this means jail or prison for others it may mean lost jobs, friends, reputations and so on. Whatever it takes to get our attention; because everything in life is an opportunity to sin or an opportunity for faith; the enemy of course wants us to fail but God wants us to look to him.
In the end walking by the Spirit is the only way. If we continue to live in our soulish emotions and thoughts we will always find ourselves in conflict. There is another person just around the corner placed there just to rub us the wrong way. How else are we going to learn how to live in the Spirit rather than the flesh? We must be tested. A faith that isn’t tested isn’t really faith at all is it? The next time you find yourself in a tight spot look to God and say, “I can’t love this person, but I’m willing to let you love them through me today.”