I remember when I worked in a penitentiary. The inmates had very little freedom and their days were organized for them. Breakfast was at a certain time as was lunch and supper. Activities were closely monitored and some inmates were kept isolated from the general prison population. Despite these rules, some inmates still attacked others and threatened guards and staff. It seemed there were some who always found a way around the rules and norms of prison life.
To get to my office I had to go through a metal detector, three electronic locked gates, and if I had to leave my area, I was given an armed escort to the more dangerous areas. Prison life had a different set of rules and the risk of violence was all too real. One day, there was an altercation between some inmates and some guards just outside of my office. It was quite violent and the inmates were seriously injured.
Division was everywhere. The obvious one was between the guards and the inmates. Other divisions included between guards and staff. These divisions did little to alleviate the tension when you have high risk violent offenders and armed guards together. Guards also eyed staff as potential security risks and their disdain for anyone other than fellow guards was obvious.
Yet there was one section of the prison in which there seemed to be little division. This was the area of solitary confinement in which the most violent and disturbed inmates were kept. These men were kept isolated from news and had no contact with anyone other than specially trained guards. Basically, they were not part of prison society. They were uninformed and separate.
The divisions made it very difficult to feel safe. Even with the armed escorts, I was confronted by inmates occasionally. On another occasion I was confronted by a guard. Once I entered the first gate, there was no place that division didn’t appear. Even in the small town surrounding the penitentiary there was division. Families of the inmates and families of the guards did not mingle. Because I was not in either camp, I was very limited in where I could go and what I could do that didn’t put me at risk.
Let’s fast forward to today.
Many people do not feel safe. Instead of respectful disagreements, there is violence and attacks. The democrats in the United Sates have been hijacked by violent anti-government forces. Even past presidents, like Obama, and left-wing politicians are calling for civil unrest. It seems they want division. Since Trump won the election in 2016, these forces have been openly trying to overthrow the elected president.
It seems that there are people who thrive on division. When they do not get their way they attack, Wild accusations against those who do not share their beliefs lead to unrest and lately violence. There are no compromises just division.
I suppose why I am reminded of my time in the penitentiary. Violence and threats abounded then and they are out of control now. Much prison violence is orchestrated by gangs and power struggles. Isn’t that what is happening right now especially in the United States?
Christians are supposed to love. Yet we are also called to be separate from the corruption in this word. How do we do this?
In the penitentiary, I walked a fine line. I tried to live the truth of God’s love without giving in to violence or the hatred around me. I believe this balance is what is needed today. We must love each other and love those with whom we disagree. We must not be dragged into the toxic poison of hatred or violence. Ultimately it does not matter which side of the political spectrum you are on. What really matters is that you stay on the side of Jesus,
Keep your eyes above the circumstances, Look towards God. Remember that as a believer in Christian you are also an ambassador for Christ, Ambassadors do not get involved in the civil affairs of the nations in which they live, rather they represent the leaders of their own countries.
Our citizenship is in heaven, our leader is God. We are called to pray for our earthly leaders not attack them. So, let us pray not just for our leaders but for all those led astray by an agenda that seeks to destroy and divide. The changes we want do not have to be violent.
Andy Becker is a retired counselor and author of The Travelers, a fictionalized account of spiritual warfare (available on Amazon) as is, Stupid Thyroid, a book he co-wrote with his wife, Stella. Andy and his wife, Stella, lead Lighthouse Ministry in North Central Regina, one of Canada’s poorest and roughest areas. He is a retired counselor, speaker, and writer. Andy Becker is working on his second book about spiritual warfare. His first book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.