What do we do as Christians when confronted with these harsh realities? The Bible urges us to “remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself!” (Hebrews 13:3). Jesus knew what it was like to have a loved one incarcerated. His cousin, John the Baptist, was falsely accused and arrested (and eventually executed). Perhaps this is why Jesus, in Matthew 25, tells his disciples “when I was in prison, you visited me.”
As a victim of false imprisonment and injustice, Jesus entered into solidarity with the incarcerated and exposed the flawed justice system of his day. Of all people, Christians should be the most skeptical of prisons. A simple survey of prisons in the Bible will reveal that prisons were mainly used to oppress minorities, exploit the poor, and silence the prophets. And the prison system today continues to do so.
One of my favorite Christians and author is Shane Claiborne. Several years ago he established and still lives in a strong Christian community in a very poor neighborhood in Philadelphia. He definitely takes the words of Jesus to heart both physically and mentally. He also has a very unique sense of humor which makes his books and writing very appealing to me. One of his books entitled Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals is much in the line with the words above.
Lets face it if Jesus were around today he would very likely be shunned by almost everyone including, and maybe even especially, the current Christian religious establishment and especially the conservative evangelical variety. He would be thoroughly trashed by the likes of Fox News Channel as being one of those dying heart liberals who care too much for those lazy people who won’t lift themselves up by their bootstraps. He would simply be too radical for most in those groups. He would be called one of “those” people. You know what I mean. This simple but obvious fact saddens me greatly. When did taking care of the poor and visiting prisoners go out of style with many of my conservative friends?