By Christian Author Linda Wiggins-Edwards
As we all know, a prison cell is usually a small room with a minimal amount of amenities designed to hold people who have committed various types of crimes, ranging from perjury on a witness stand to the rape & murder of children. And although prisons are designed for use by the judicial system, a system that works incessantly to lock away criminals, they are also used by that same system for those who have been deemed by society as being unworthy of freedom. We have also become part of that system, using a prison cell to imprison Jesus, not because Jesus committed any crime, but because he has been deemed by society as being unworthy of freedom, and unfortunately oftentimes Christians can be some of the worst offenders.
Imprisoning Jesus is a phenomenon that occurs in both church and society because people relentlessly want to force Jesus into a neat little box, along with all of their preconceived notions of Christian theology, dogmatic doctrines, religious ideology and impious practices. The majority of Christians will all agree that Christianity is a religion that is rooted in freedom, yet it has a history of always being misused, misinterpreted and misrepresented by those same Christians as a religion of oppression, with the oppressor using the Bible not only to justify their tyranny and abuse, but to convince the people they are oppressing that they must willingly accept their oppression because it is all part of God’s divine plan. They seem to have a magnificent way of being able to read the Bible hypocritically when it comes to using scripture to rationalize their own prejudices.
Imprisoning Jesus doesn’t just stop with the subjugation of others in the name of God. We also have a tendency to imprison Jesus when it comes to our own personal spiritual growth as well. We want God to provide us with an overabundance of His grace and mercy, but we won’t extend that same grace and mercy to others who may simply need a helping hand. We say we want God to use us in a “mighty” way, but we neglect to pick up our cross and follow Him whenever He calls us to task. We look to God for the answers to all of our prayers, but refuse to listen to Him when the answer is not the one that we want to hear. We ask God to bestow upon us the full magnitude of His blessings, but fail to notice the opportunities that we have to bless God’s Spirit in return. We seek God’s knowledge, peace and understanding, but are content to remain in our own ignorance, indignation and indifference. We implore Jesus through prayer and petition to forgive us of our sins, but we continually reside in a state of unforgiveness, with a propensity to remind others of their past sins. We desire to become transformed into the image of Christ, but disallow the necessary adjustments to be made to our own self-image. We want Jesus to remain with us through our personal storms, but abandon him once the eye of the storm has passed. We worship God on Sunday, giving Him all the honor, glory & praise, but go to work on Monday – Friday and dare not whisper God’s name or even bless our food. We expect God to allow us to operate within our right to free will, but then fault God when we misuse that free will and separate ourselves from His holiness. We suit up for spiritual warfare by putting on our breastplate of righteousness, but constantly reject Christ by turning it into a shroud of sanctimonious self-righteousness.
We must break those chains that bind us. We must stop imprisoning Jesus. We must set him free and in turn set ourselves free. We must stop trying to mold and shape Jesus into whom we think Christ is supposed to be, and instead allow God to mold and shape us into the holy image of our risen Christ, our Lord and Savior, transforming and renewing us, so that our faces, and the face of all Christians, will one day be a reflection of God’s own. We must allow God to work in us and through us in a way that will not only bring Him glory, but will also bring us closer to Him in the process. We must see the people that Jesus sat with (the prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers and sinners) and hear the voices of the oppressed people who cried out to Jesus for salvation. These same people exist in our world today, and we must ask God to give us eyes that we might see, ears that we might hear, and hearts that we might help. We must stop neglecting each other, which in turn causes us to neglect God. We must be willing to see that all of humankind was made in the image of God. We must understand that the Word of God is not only the written Word in the Bible, but the living Word in Jesus, and when the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, he came to us from the Father, full of grace and truth. Jesus was, is and will forever be the absolute fullness of God’s truth, not what we misperceive, misunderstand or misinterpret as truth. Our misunderstanding of God’s truth is what happens when we continue to imprison Jesus, not allowing God’s truth to speak to our hearts, minds and souls. We have to ask ourselves what it is that we believe about God. Is God a God of oppression? Did Jesus come to enslave us or to save us by setting us free? What is it that we believe Jesus stood for? What is it that we believe about ourselves and each other as children of God? If we don’t stand for peace, justice, righteousness, holiness and truth, then we will forever put Jesus in that four-walled prison cell, only allowing him freedom at our discretion and our convenience, hearing only what we want to hear, seeing only what we want to see, and believing only that which fits into our neat little box, instead of confronting and challenging ourselves and what we believe about God, so that we may gain a deeper, fuller understanding of God’s truth. The time has come to set Jesus free!! Amen.
Written by Linda Wiggins-Edwards
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.