Near the end of Robert’s recent letter he writes, “I get the impression that while in Old Testament times it was good to destroy people who did evil; now in New Testament times we are not supposed to do that. Am I correct? Now when we encounter evil people we are to pray for them , but not destroy them or wish them ill. Yes? For me this is difficult….”
The struggle Robert is having has been intensified lately by a confrontation with evil. Let me explain.
I met Robert over 5 years ago. While not an addict, he came through the “Common Solution Recovery” classes and worked through the rigorous house cleaning steps for his own spiritual growth. He became a valued worker for the chaplains and a positive impact on other inmates. Most recently, I was happy to write a letter of recommendation for Robert’s admission into a seminary. He plans to earn a Master of Divinity degree either remotely or in residence if his sentence gets commuted.
Over a year ago, Robert submitted a request for a review of his case, asking for an “Evidentiary Hearing”. It was granted on merit and he was transferred to a holding facility near the courthouse. The process is slow and he has been there for a few months now. He has been writing me regularly.
In this most recent letter he described a brutal murder of another inmate who was in a nearby cell. Robert did not see the act but afterward he witnessed the bloody crime scene a few cells down shortly after the guards discover the body.
The prisoner that committed the murder was set to be released in a week or two but will now serve his full life sentence. Robert was shaken by both the brutality of the killer and the widespread lack of compassion of all those who saw a man bleeding to death, never saying anything to the guards who might have been able to get help before he died.
Robert’s question is a serious theological question and one that is very pertinent to the challenges of walking with Jesus when surrounded by blatant evil. Walking with Jesus through an evil world is difficult.
I’ve known Robert for a long time and I know he knows the answer to his own question. This letter is his way of connecting and being reminded that he isn’t alone in our walk. He is looking for the affirmation from another of the saints — a reminder that Jesus truly has won the victory and that all evil has been conquered on the Cross. That death and evil are defeated — that righteousness and LIFE win.
I am certain that Robert will take up the weapons of spiritual warfare as he has done over the years I’ve known him. He will trust. He will pray. He will love others expecting nothing in return. He will continue to walk in the victory of Jesus Christ.
God provides these testimonies. Please feel free to forward these to your friends.
The generous friends of Mark 4 provide the means for my being a part of His changing men’s hearts and transforming prisons.
Think of it as spiritual prison reform through ministering to both believing and unbelieving inmates.
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