God Magnified

Should I celebrate when a criminal is incarcerated? Am I supposed to share the same feeling that most people feel? I work with mentally ill people, and one of them just went to jail.  Every person I know despises him because of his abusive behavior.  Everyone hoped for this person to be put away for whatever reason.  And today it “finally” happened.  I have tried to have some hope for this individual. I really wanted him to succeed.  But his actions brought him back to jail.  The popular thought was that he deserved to be locked up.  And this popular belief made me go along with the flow.  I became paranoid because of the stories everyone shared about this person.  Having him in the community caused everyone to be guarded and anxious.  I was afraid of how violent he could have been.  But now he is in jail.  And for some reason, I feel sad.  Am I not supposed to be happy? Am I not supposed to feel relieved that this criminal is behind bars?  While he was still in the community, I remember thinking how would God want me to approach this person?  What would Jesus do with a person like this?  Certainly not what everyone else was doing.  Certainly not how everyone else reacted to the news that he was put in jail.

In Mathew 5:48, Jesus commanded us to be perfect as God is perfect.  What exactly did this mean? Being perfect is associated with completion, fullness, without any need, purity.  What does it mean to be completed like God?  Imitating God is extremely difficult, but not impossible.  Reflecting the characteristics of God is challenging, but necessary in order to live the Kingdom of Heaven.  “Normal” people usually find happiness and joy when they have possessions, are well fed, and things usually go their way.  But for those who want to be perfect like God, happiness and joy usually happen for other reasons, like when they are needy, poor, and serving others who are undesirable.  Being humble, forgiving, meek, and peaceful is what makes a person more like God.  But of course, this is not popular nor encouraged in this world.  We are supposed to hate our enemies, seek for our own well being, compete, and always do what is convenient and easy in order to be accepted in this world.  But his world is full of darkness because of our selfishness.  We are called to be light of the world (Matthew 5:14).  We are called to love those who hate us (Matthew 5:43).  We are called to bless those who curse us.  We are called to forgive those who persecute us.  We are called to help those who want to harm us.  Crazy stuff, right?   Well, if this is irrational and weird, then so be it.  It is actually what we are called to be and do to manifest the Kingdom of Heaven.  Please, don’t misunderstand me.  I am not trying to brag about how “perfect” I am for feeling sad for this individual. This post is not about me, but about what God wants us to be. It is about how God can me magnified in our lives.

How do we then magnify God?  By singing hymns?  By loving those who love us?  By being nice to some people and hold grudges against those we dislike?  In order to glorify and actually magnify the love of God, we must suppress all those natural and popular characteristics that make us “normal”, like being excited that a criminal is put into jail, or being happy that our enemy is suffering.  Living a joyful life because we are blessing those who persecute us is all about how God wants us to live.  Being perfect is the way to glorify and magnify God.


About Noel

I am a person who has realized that the teachings of Jesus are centralized in the genuine care and service of others. I have evolved from fundamentalism to a moderate spiritual approach. I am a reflecting person who has grown to not fear doubt but to embrace it as a means to growth and increasing closeness to God. View all posts by Noel

6 responses to “God Magnified

  • mtsweat

    The compassion of Jesus shines through your words my friend. Thanks and God bless.

  • robinb333

    I believe the way Jesus taught, love your enemies. I would pray for this person, pray that his eyes are open. Maybe you could send him a Bible with a little note. Like you I’ve struggled with this same issue. The biggest was with the death of Osama Bin Ladden. I was extremely sorry for the families who was affected by the tragedy but I could not celebrate Osama’s death. To me it wasn’t right…So I prayed….

  • sharinhislove

    You have the right attitude, Noel. It is hard to follow Jesus, but it is also the most joyous life. When we go to bed at night, our soul can rest sweetly in peace knowing that we followed Him, His commandments, His love, because He knows the big picture. And He wants the best for all people. He wants that man who went to jail as much as He wants each one of us, to continually come back to Him, or to come to Him the first time. Blessings.

  • Rebecca Trotter

    When I was in college, I did prison ministry in a juvenile prison, so I get where you are coming from. What I came to see was that prison can be a necessary thing – even for someone we are loving. It can also be a redemptive thing for someone who is willing to change. It’s sad, but some people are too damaged to live freely in society. Hopefully its a temporary thing for someone who needs to get themselves together. However, there were a couple of people I met who I would gladly minister, pray with and love to pieces but I honestly hope never got to go free again because they had given themselves over to evil and weren’t repentant. I personally think that Christians should be on the front lines demanding that prisons be made safer places and better rehabilitation be offered to those in prison. Unfortunately, conservative politics being what they often are, more often Christians are the loudest voices screaming “lock ’em up and thrown away the key”. Which is understandable from a purely human perspective. But we’re supposed to work from a Kingdom perspective. Every single boy I worked with had been raised by a single mother, violently abused, and often brought into gangs by family members. Many of them were given drugs and alcohol at a very young age. These are people whose need to be re-parented and re-taught how to be human beings. Their crimes were inexcusable, but I would challenge those in the “throw away the key camp” to grow up basically being tortured and come out as good, responsible people. I believe that our job as Christians is to love the unlovable. Period.

    • Noel

      Rebecca, trust me, I understand completely. We are supposed to love the undesired, the “least of these”. I also have experience working in a prison setting for three years. I currently work with mentally ill adults who also have criminal charges. It is sometimes hard to see them behind bars, but if I let God work in me, I start seeing them with different eyes. Many “professionals” express hopelessness and disgust, they show no mercy and no encouragement. I try to look at it in a different way, but it is hard when people around you do what is easy, what is humanly natural. But God is not natural, He is supernatural. We must reflect the supernatural. Thank you for your comment.

  • thewomanatthewell

    I have enjoyed my visit to your blog, you have certianly given me a lot of food for thought. Thanks for speaking your truth and allowing us to form our own opinions, it’s refreshing. May God bless you -watw

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