Criminal

BY JESSICA THOMPSON

One of my podcast addictions is Criminal. Their tagline is “Criminal is a podcast about crime. Stories of people who've done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.” Sometimes the stories are horrific, sometimes informative, and sometimes humorous. Recently there was an episode called “Mother’s Little Helper.” This particular episode was about a woman Sandie Alger a 71-year-old woman who had been in and out of jail for over 3 decades. Sandie’s crimes were always fueled by a love for drugs. She has bene sober for quite some time now and currently is working in a drug rehab facility in Durham, North Carolina.

As I was listening to this particular episode Sandie said something that made me stop what I was doing and listen to this sentence again and again. She is talking about working with the women that come into rehab and she said this, “There is nothing here that a woman can say to me that shocks me or makes me judge her or upsets me because I’ve done all the bad things already. The most important thing for my women is that they feel safe at all times. Many of them have never felt safe before they came here, ever as children or as adults and so they have to feel safe.” Friends, what if this is what the church looked like? What if actually believed that we were the “foremost sinner”? 

What if mentoring and discipleship relationships looked like making people feel safe as they confessed their sin?

This confession, “I’ve already done all the bad things already” needs to be indelibly written on our hearts in order to have full and meaningful relationship with others. Some of you may be thinking, “Well, I actually haven’t done all the bad things. I grew up in a Christian home. I am pretty consistent with my devotional time. I always go to church. I am, generally speaking, doing okay. I mean, I know I am a sinner, but I never really strayed all that much.” I want to take you dear friends to the bloody cross. Where Christ was crucified just as much for the sin of self-righteousness as he was for the sin of drug addiction. I would show you that hill where the perfect Son was crucified for every time you thought of yourself as pretty okay when absolute perfection is what is required of you. I would show you his nail pierced hands that spoke of all the times you gave yourself a pass because at least you tried. I would beg you to look upon the man bearing all the weight for all of your disinterested half-hearted love for him. There I would tell you that you have the same confession, that I have, that every member of the church has “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

When we see each ourselves as the biggest screw up we know we will be able to say with Paul and with Sandie, “I’ve already done all the bad things. Please, don’t feel judged, don’t think you will shock me. I want you to feel safe here.” Beloved, treat each other as dearly beloved children of a gracious Father. Remind each other that we are safe. We are hidden in the shadow of His wings. We are washed completely white with no stain remaining. We are loved. He is never shocked by our sin. He knows it all and loves us just the same. 

Jessica is an author of several books and a frequent conference speaker. Her heart is to see women, families, and children freed from the bondage of moralism and to live in the truth that in the gospel there is joyful freedom awaiting them. Jess has a Bachelor's Degree in Theology and with her mother, Elyse Fitzpatrick, she co-authored the books Give Them Grace and Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions. She has also written Exploring Grace Together and Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships With the Love of Jesus. Jess believes the truth that salvation is "naked confidence in the mercy of God." She has been married to her high school sweetheart since 1995. Together they have three teenage children.

Twitter @TheJessLou