Our situation, our race, or gender should have no bearing on our acceptance or our relationship with fellow believers. But our faith
and loyalty toward Jesus Christ should.
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free . . . .” 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13.
To the Galatians, Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.
The thief on the cross is a primary example of how God uses each member of Christ to the advantage of glorifying His Son. The illustration also reveals that even a criminal can truly repent, defend the truth, and be accepted by Jesus: “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, ‘Verily I say unto thee to day, shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39–43.
The thief on the cross, in that day, believed and defended the truth. The Lord, through Paul and Silas, also drew the hearts of the prisoners, and a keeper of the prison sought salvation and was baptized. (See Acts 16:25–34.)
There were and will be individuals, convicted of wrongdoing, who follow the apostles’ ministry, who have and will continue to win souls in their situation. “Therefore judge nothing before the time.” 1 Corinthians 4:5.
Do We Remember Those in Bonds?
“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; [and] them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” Hebrews 13:3. Why? “The members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; . . . Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” 1 Corinthians 12:25–27.
Paul revealed in his letter to the Romans, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.” Romans 15:3. And the reverse is true; the same reproaches that fell on Jesus will also fall on us. “If they have persecuted me,” says Jesus, “they will also persecute you.” (See John 15:20–23.) Therefore, there is no room for anyone doing the Lord’s work to be reluctant or half-hearted in communicating with and encouraging those of us within prison walls who are receptive to the truth.
Jude wrote, “It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3. Did this counsel end with the apostles? As evil as these days are, it would be a shame if it did. The conclusion, according to the Bible is this:
“If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin.” James 2:8, 9.