Jesus was such a radical! In my devotions this week he was saying, Love your enemies…pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.
I’m really struggling with that today.
As the leader of an agency trying to follow the Matthew 25 admonition to show compassion to prisoners, I honestly believe that some officials on the state payroll are doing what they can to thwart our efforts. Witness this:
On February 5, our email service to some 500 prisoners gets blocked without warning or explanation for 12 days.
On March 13, it happens all over again…no email communications allowed between 500 prisoners in the State of Michigan and me. As of today, still not fixed!
Since the first of February, almost all email communications between Michigan’s prison for women in Ypsilanti grinds to a halt. Messages started resuming in recent days, but they had been sent nearly a month ago.
And that prompts me to ask: Should we respond with a sledge hammer, or should we turn the other cheek?
I’m still not sure. Trying to model Jesus doesn’t always mean being a softie. We saw him lovingly holding little kids on his lap. We saw his deep compassion toward a woman accused of infidelity. On the other hand, we saw his temper when he kicked the money changers out of the temple and we heard it in his voice when he called Pharisees “sons of hell.”
We’ve tried responding in a calm and respectable manner. We are working quietly and patiently with a representative of the MDOC who has been helpful, and our conversations have been business-like. In addition we have filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act, hoping to find out how this email disruption occurred, and why.
Here’s where I’m coming from (today at least): I can and will pray for people who operate and work in the Michigan Department of Corrections. But I feel that we cannot stand idly by, with our hands in our pockets, when certain forces seem to be intent on hampering our work. As long as I’m running this outfit, I’m going to insist that our goal never change or be compromised! And that goal, simply stated, is to extend compassion to prisoners in the name of Jesus. It’s what we’ve always done. We have no intention of giving up.
Pastor Nate reminds me that little David had more than just a few stones with which to attack Goliath. He had an extra weapon in his arsenal that the enemy just didn’t have.
If what we do is “Jesus work,” as I label it, standing in its way might not be such a good idea, or all that successful.