“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21 NIV
Following one of the recent more devastating earthquakes in Haiti, it was reported that in the church congregations as communities came together to worship, the older women walked around and touched different ones, praying for them as they worshipped. When I saw that report, it was so moving seeing that taking place – poor people made even more decimated by the destruction that an earthquake brings to life and substance, seeking solace through faith in the power of what those prayers could do for the hurting people attending that service. The women prayed as they moved through the gathering fully believing in the invisible Force they could tap into for continued assurance of God’s love and care in a time of desperate proportions of loss. When your faith becomes all that you have and you feel like a helpless victim, you can never be without hope or power as you begin to understand even more this statement from Ephesians 3: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
The need I see in our communities among people living in poverty and people who are incarcerated are extreme. Life choices and resulting circumstances from generations of poverty, violence, untreated mental and physical illness and drugs in a culture of survival of the fittest can be very difficult to turn around. Where drugs are concerned I have found that even though you are intelligent with skills and resources, it doesn’t seem to matter. The far-reaching destruction of drugs has no bounds.
I have found though, that when individuals hear the Good News packaged in love and the power of the Holy Spirit – this culture begins to change one person at a time as they begin to trust and believe. When they see with new eyes they gradually fill with hope. The transformative message that Jesus Christ brought to earth with the accompanying power that is promised, is enough, whether others around them, those in the religious community and representatives in the system of justice share that Spirit or not. It doesn’t keep them from receiving the gift of salvation and all the blessings that come with it. With Jesus Christ and his “God-breathed Scripture” as Paul referred to it, we have everything we need that is most important to us. It does matter on a different level to those without The Force who render justice and those who profess Christ but fail to carry out Christ’s mission in power, as we will examine further on in this chapter of Sweetwater Journey.
When we seek after the selfish things that are not of God, we lose our way. Every living being has access to The Force through Christ. The person who has little resources and is dealing with circumstances for which in the beginning they may not have been fully responsible, can receive the Holy Spirit through faith and be in an amazing place of hope and wonder even in a house with the roof caving in or a jail cell awaiting sentencing. It doesn’t matter. We still must repent for the wrong choices we have made and call on Jesus Christ to help us turn our lives around. We can’t do it without Him. Jesus Christ had nothing – no wealth or material substance. He shared out of his vast spiritual resources and knowledge, teaching us what matters most and will bring us happiness and contentment. He conveyed that happiness is not found in wealth.
I came to see this anew in dramatically moving ways with the inmates who come to Christ.
You can read “The Force” in its entirety on the Houston Herald website.