It's the Holy Spirit's job to convict; it's God's job to judge; and it's our job to love.
— Billy Graham
Lately I've been contemplating prison.
You know the Bible passage where Jesus talks about visiting those in prison, where He puts prisoners in the same category with the needy, the sick, and the newcomer... and then He says looking after these is a demonstration of love for Him?
It suddenly occurred to me that He doesn't say we're only to visit those prisoners who are innocent.
Nor does He say we're supposed to explain to them the nature of their guilt and insist they agree with our perspective before we'll visit them again.
He says visit... look after. Which I think means show mercy.
My heart aches for the four teenagers who have died by their own hand in the last few weeks. All four committed suicide as a result of being harassed by classmates about their sexuality.
Billy Lucas, age 15.
Seth Walsh, age 13.
Asher Brown, age 13.
Tyler Clementi, age 18.
Real kids who felt they had no other option but to end their lives.
I'm not taking a stand here about whether homosexuality is or isn't a sin. That's not the point.
The action we're called to as believers is the same either way.
When Jesus spoke about visiting and looking after those in prison, did He mean for us to do so even if it's possible they might be guilty? I think so.
Does it matter what the prison is? Or what someone's guilt looks like? Or even if everyone agrees on whether it's sin or not?
It doesn't seem to. He's asking us to show mercy... not judgment.
How do I know? Because He set the example first.