It is always a joy to come to you with another Monthly View. The Lord has a wonderful month of blessings in store for us by faith. "I pray that God, Who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in Him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."1
We're All Connected
A study in restorative justice must go back to the beginning of time to see how things were, in order to restore things back into a former state of righteousness. We're all connected to one another, whether you believe in the theory of evolution, or in God's creation of mankind. My faith is based on God's Word, where He says:
"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it, have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"2
According to Scripture, we are all connected to our Creator and to one another as individuals, with dominion over everything. The Psalmist David, sang: "You have crowned man with glory and honor."3 God's creation was made perfect, and man was created righteous and holy. He was given authority to carry out justice according to God's will and standard. But also, he was given free-will to make his own choices. Therefore, we are given the responsibility to be accountable to God and to one another.
Ignorance of God's Intentions
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve experienced love as the divine flow. It was God's intention for them to have children that would populate the world and reflect His image. As a family of individuals, they were created to relate in love, respect, care, trust, and humility. But God, in His omniscience, knew that His perfect plan would not last long and that He would have to provide restoration for broken relationships.
Could it be our ignorance without the knowledge of God causing our lack of empathy as a society? In my book Manson's Right-Hand Man Speaks Out!, I wrote the following:
"The empathy I've developed over the years didn't come in a flash. The Lord began to show me that every life -- man, woman, or child is made in the image of God and is of enormous value in His eyes. This thought was entirely missing at the time of my crime, even though my mother had tried to teach me to live for others.
It takes God to show a person the value of life. I know many people who are clueless about the pain they've caused because they haven't admitted their own pain; instead, they medicated it daily with drugs, sex, and the like. I was concerned that I didn't know how to feel about my victim's deep pain and knew I needed help. I began to see that as my view of God changed, my view of my victims changed." (Chapter 6, The Victims)
Restorative justice is a wake-up call for offenders like myself. I was asleep spiritually. I was "...destroyed for lack of knowledge because I had rejected knowledge."4 My pride, rebellion, and self-centeredness brought destruction to the lives of my victims, their families and mine, and to society at large.
The Great Disconnect
It wasn't long after creation that man fell into sin through disobedience. You'll recall how Eve gave way to the serpent's temptation to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.5 In her and Adam's weakness, they ate of the forbidden fruit. As a result, "...sin entered the world, and death spread to all men."6
The inherent propensity to sin entered the human realm, and men became sinners by nature from the moment of conception. Again the Psalmist David verifies: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me."7 As a result, we are born spiritually dead or separated from God.8 Therefore, humans are not sinners because they sin, but rather they sin because they are sinners. This makes it impossible for men to please God.
Though I went to church religiously as a youth, I sought only to please my parents, teachers, coaches, and peers. I became an approval seeker, which drove me to failure, fearful of rejection, and perfectionism. I ran to California seeking medication for my pain through drugs, sex, and rock 'n roll. I failed miserably, by turning my back on my parents and moving in with the Manson Family. I was looking for love and acceptance. I had no idea that faith in God and His plan of salvation was what would connect me to God.
Connection Through Faith
When I dropped out of society in the '60s, I was not only disconnected spiritually, but had become disconnected socially. Those in the Manson Family were the "us," and the outsiders were the "them." This became the seed bed for creating victims. The words of the serpent took root in our minds and brought forth death. Like the Apostel Paul said: "I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."9
I had no idea that "...without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."10 This truth (planted in my heart) would have healed my heart of approval seeking, supplied my need for love and acceptance, and set me free from sin.11
God's grace has made it possible for sinners to be accepted by God through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, forgiving our sins. "For He has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and He has brought us into the Kingdom of His dear Son. God has purchased our freedom with His blood and has forgiven all our sins."12
A Prayer For You ...
Heavenly Father, I am disconnected from you. I am sick and tired of creating victims. Like David prayed, I am a sinner because I was conceived in sin as a child of Adam. I have been seeking acceptance from people only to find none. I believe You accept me solely because Your Son died on the cross for my sin. I confess with my mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, and I believe in my heart that He rose from the dead to provide the gift of righteousness by faith. Come into my heart, Holy Spirit, so I can experience You as a Child of God. Thank you for this amazing grace, faith, hope, and love. Amen!"
RELATED LINK: Opening The Door To Forgiveness
1 Rom. 15:13
2 Gen. 1:26-28
3 Psa. 8:4-9
4 Hos. 4:6a
5 Gen. 3:1-7
6 Rom. 5:12
7 Psa. 51:5
8 Eph. 2:1,2; 4:18
9 2 Cor. 11:3
10 Heb. 11:6
11 John 8:32, 36
12 Col. 1:13
Acknowledgement: A special thanks to Sherry for transcribing this months view!