“Jesus came near Jerusalem. Looking at the city, he began to cry for it and
said, “I wish you knew today what would bring you peace. But it is hidden
from you now.” (Luke 19:41-42)
Gee! What are those conditions for peaceful living? How can we live with peace of mind, especially in a world that seems to be at war with itself?
Burl Cain, the warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary – a gigantic prison of 6100 inmates – says, “This is probably the safest prison in America today, yet it has the potential to be the most violent because of the type of sentences of the inmates who are living here.”
A program instituted by the New Orleans Baptist Seminary has literally changed the culture within the prison. It strives to maintain an environment where high ethical standards are expected of everyone.
Cain continues, “the folks who run prisons forgot that the word corrections means to correct deviant behavior … they do traditional prison, so they get traditional outcomes. But we're very non-traditional, so we get non-traditional outcomes more than anybody else in the country … It changed solely because these inmates were praying to God to heal their land, and He did.”
Sound too good to be true? Actually, I find that the teachings of Jesus very often involve non-traditional ways of dealing with life’s difficulties. I call it ‘living outside the box’. Maybe those ‘lifers’ in prison have been applying some of his ways. Here are two samples:
#1. “If you practice loving only those who love you, what reward will you
get? Do not even the tax-collectors practice that? ... Practice loving
your enemies and praying for your persecutors … (God) makes His
sun rise on bad as well as good people, and makes the rain come
down on doers of right and of wrong alike. ” (Matthew 5:44-47)
#2. “Don’t oppose an evil man. If anyone slaps you on your right cheek,
turn the other cheek to him … If anyone makes you go one mile, go
two miles with him.” (Matthew 5:39-41)
The New Year is the most appropriate time to make changes in our lives. Following are some helps for stepping outside the traditional box of living to create a New-You in the New Year. As it takes 21 days to form a new habit, each morning for 21 days:
1) Invite God to be your constant partner for guidance throughout the day;
2) Release the need to hold on to yesterday's disappointments; and
3) Give yourself permission to practice being the love that you are.
Jesus raps it up with a promise for us all:
“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I
give isn’t like the peace the world gives.” (John 14:27)