I have been leading Bible studies at our local jail for over 15 years now. I have often said that if I put up a sign in our town that invited people to come and find out about Jesus few would come, if any. And if they did, I doubt if they would listen respectfully without arguing or trying to take over with their own agenda. But there have been very few visits where no ladies have come and still fewer times when someone is argumentative or an opposing agenda takes over.
A high majority of women have been Native American, a world view that might look similar on the surface, but now that I’ve had these years of interacting on a spiritual level with them I find that though we share the same county, we’re very different in how we approach the world and the afterworld.
One visit this summer included a gal that was listening, but I could tell she was ready to argue or debate. She had listened to a summary of who Jesus was, that He was God Himself who came from Heaven and took on human form as a baby and grew up and began His public ministry at the age of 30. That He was willing to come here to show us what God was like, to reveal truth and to save us from our sins. That He had been promised from the beginning of the Bible and the Jews had waited for Him, but didn’t know His name and just how He was going to save them. How Jesus started His ministry with miracles of all sorts to announce to people that He was here. I was purposing to get to three different people’s reaction to Jesus: mad, sad and glad. She beat me to the punch.
Somewhere in there she shouted out, “I would never let a dude who put on a meat suit be my God.” I thought I heard her, but I gently said, “come again?”
She said “a dude that would take on a human form, and wear a meat suit. He could never be my God.” Me: “Oh, that’s exactly what Jesus had to do in order to pay the price for our sin. He had to take on human form, to be the sinless sacrifice for our sins. Sin had to be paid for and He came to do it. Otherwise we would face the death penalty and be sentenced to an eternity in Hell.”
“We don’t have Hell,” was her quick reply. I held up my Bible. “Jesus called out ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ The truth. Part of that the truth of the Bible is that there is a Heaven and a Hell and what you do with Jesus determines where you spend eternity. That’s what Zacchaeus accepted and that’s what I’m asking you to consider tonight.”
For some reason, her only response to me was “that’s disrespectful,” which she said several times. I replied “I’m not being disrespectful, actually it’s the most loving thing I can tell you.”
Another inmate stepped in, trying to make peace. She said of me, “She just doesn’t understand our ways. It’s okay. Just listen to her.” That settled things down a bit and I finished the study. When I went to leave, I told her, “I hope I see you again,” and she said “Me too.”
Isn’t that the story of Christmas, actually the heart of the Gospel? A God who became a dude in a meat suit. He had to in order to pay the price for our sin and save us from Hell.
Hallelujah, what a Savior!