My apologies for the delay in regular postings to those who are regularly following my blog. Preparing for and teaching a summer class on “Punishing Criminals: A Biblical View of Justice” took some extra time. But I thank you for your patience, and for your interest in exploring the connections between crime and theology.
I was reminded this week of the similarities we share with those convicted of felony crimes and sentenced to prison. We began a new 10-week session with a group of participants in the “Prison Fellowship Reentry Ministry” for which I volunteer. The first day we introduced the group of nearly 30 guys to the challenges we all face in trying to make changes in our lives. In addition to focusing on self-assessment and taking responsibility for bad decisions that got them in prison, we integrate a faith dimension toward making changes.
Two Bible verses that point toward the need for personal change and the difficulty of making changes were written by the Apostle Paul.
“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” –Romans 7:15
Paul was jailed for charges of violating laws of the Roman authorities; and openly admits that he struggled to live up to his calling as a messenger of God. The men in the prison group identified with the Apostle’s words—but were also surprised that even a man of God struggled to do what was right.
We turned to a second statement of the Apostle Paul that points to the importance of faith in turning one’s life around.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” –Philippians 4:13
As with all religious and spiritual care services administered through the Prison Chaplain’s Office, our Prison Fellowship Reentry program is open to participants of all religious beliefs. Many of the prison inmates were encouraged by these Biblical statements.
Even the Apostle Paul struggled with doing right?! …like me?!
Maybe, just maybe, faith in God, in Christ—or “my Higher Power”—can help me make the changes I know I’ve gotta make!
Yes, my friends: there IS a “criminology-theology-connection”!
*[As always, I appreciate your comments, feedback, and questions relating to this post.]