Last week, I blogged about the charge all of us who are followers of Christ have to spread His aroma to a world in need of Him. I’d just come from an exhilarating meeting with college student leaders who are reaching into every corner of their campus to do that, with amazing results of lives being transformed.
The day after I posted that, I visited another place where I heard from believers in Christ who are also being that pleasing aroma bringing life.
That place is prison. Those believers are youth inmates. Roughly the same age as college students, they are worlds apart.
I feel their differences acutely. God put college students on my heart over 30 years ago, and I can’t shake it even if I wanted to. He also indelibly etched inmates on my husband’s heart. We’ve tried to do ministry together, but we keep defaulting to what we know – where our passions reside.
And in the process of encountering Steve’s ministry, God is lovingly reshaping me to be more merciful – not a trait that comes naturally to me.
I love college students because they are future leaders who can impact our society and change our world. During these pivotal years, their values are being shaped and their future course set. They are also current leaders, full of enthusiasm and unencumbered, willing to take risks to bring the gospel to their classmates and to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Steve loves inmates because they need to be loved. Yes, they’ve made bad choices, but they are paying for their mistakes. People and society have failed them and cast them aside. But from their rock-bottom vantage point, they can more clearly see their desperate need for a Savior because the only direction they can look is up.
The Lord who freely gives second and third and fourth chances is able to make new creatures out of them. And to raise up people like Steve to help them shake off their cocoons.
Is the college student with her limitless opportunities really all that different from the prisoner? Only from the outside. Both have the same fundamental need that only Jesus can meet. Both need His mercy. Both are imprisoned behind bars of sin that can only be opened by another.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (II Cor. 2:14 – emphasis mine.)
Where is your everywhere?