As violence increases in Baltimore and Maryland we are called to minister to more and more young men who have committed heinous crimes. We say that we understand and practice the unconditional love of Jesus Christ but there are times when we are scared or even repulsed by the actions of the boys we serve.
We must be reliant on Him in prayer, and in close fellowship with strong believers to remember that we must see the boy and not just their crime. The determinant of our heart and actions must be the example set by our Triune God. Does God love a murderer?
I John 4:8 tells us that God is, by definition, love. Romans 5:6-8 tells us that “while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” and Romans 3 states clearly that “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” It seems clear that we are all in the same boat with regard to sin but how can our hearts be softened to minister to the least of these?
As in all things we look to God for modeled behavior. When David committed adultery and had his lover’s husband killed to cover his sin, God did not disconnect. He brought David to a point of repentance, forgave him, and set him on a path to be used to fulfill God’s purpose. But it is important to see that there was still a consequence. The baby conceived in David’s tryst died and David carried that sorrow throughout his earthly life. Similar patterns of repentance, forgiveness, and consequence can be seen in the Bible with Absalom, Moses and Paul.
We know that each of these boys, regardless of their crime is loved and valued by God. We know that they must sit in the consequence of their actions but still, they have an eternal choice to make today. We pray that our unconditional love can be used by God to draw them near.