Judge Not

A young man in my neighborhood is facing twenty five years in prison. His parents asked me to counsel him. I doubt it’s his first offense, you don’t get that kind of time for speeding tickets or parking in a handicap zone. There’s no handbook for preparing to go inside a correctional institution, unless you count the Bible.

We are all advised not to conform ourselves to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we might prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2) That’s challenging enough on the outside where keeping up with the Joneses, or looking up to Jesus, is a day to day opportunity. Being housed with other criminals in an ill fitting jumpsuit for the majority of your life is a destiny few of us choose, but thousands of young people earn.

There are injustices a plenty in our society, being on the wrong end of a firearm is one we hear about daily. Going to prison for committing a serious crime isn’t one of them and transforming one’s mind to get ahold of that is an act of God. The common mindset of the incarcerated population is obsessed with fairness. Collecting slights against one’s person is a full time occupation. Attitude determines status, safety, and, in a few cases, sanity.

I don’t know how our meeting will play out. We have eleven days until sentencing. We’re strangers to each other in culture, race, age, probably temperament and musical preference. The first part of Romans, 12:1, beseeches us, by the mercies of God, to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God as a reasonable service. I’ll listen, I’ll let him know he’s not alone, and I’ll offer support in his improbable journey of becoming a light in a world of darkness. It’s all any of us can do, and it’s all He’s asking of us. If it were my son, it’s all I would ask of you, anything less, would be criminal.

Will Schmit

Will Schmit is a volunteer outreach prison minister for Lifehouse Church in McKinleyville Ca. He is the author of Head Lines A Sixty Day Guide to Personal Psalmistry and Jesus Inside A Prison Minister's Memoir and Training Manual both available at Amazon Books and www.schmitbooks.com. The website also includes poetry, ministry updates, and music downloads from Bring To Glory a CD of spoken word with coffee house jazz.

More Posts - Website - Twitter