Every Saint has a Past and every Sinner has a Future!
The issue of background checks came in my purview because I am an ex-offender (returned citizen). Matter of fact, a criminologist would coin me as a career criminal. That would be an inaccurate label, for I do not practice criminal acts anymore. The story about this change is in a little booklet I wrote entitled “A Changed Man” by Tony Brown. What caused the change after a life of crime? I met Jesus in a confinement cell. When I realized that my criminal lifestyle and my bad habits were just the tip of the iceberg of my sinful behavior toward my Creator and that He made a way to be just and justified for those who believe in Jesus, a joy came over me that empowered me to want to do right. During the rest of my incarceration, I went to the chapel quite often, completed a faith base program, completed vocational certifications in legal assistance, horticulture, and PC support. In addition, I took other classes to better myself. My dad told me on one of my earlier commitments that what I did on the inside reflected what I would do on the outside.
Upon release in 2013, I continued this path, joined the local church, wrote a book, and started college. The first time that I got turned down for a job was when I applied to do janitorial work. The day I was supposed to start I was informed that my background prevented me. This would become a reoccurring event. Surprisingly to me, I excelled in college making the President’s list a few times. This caused me to be inducted into an honor society. Moreover, I began to volunteer in hopes of planting good seeds and making a new record. Due to my prison job of a law clerk, I became proficient with computer skills, research, and Microsoft Office, among other things. Therefore, I sought out jobs that I knew I was competent, to no avail, for the background check issue kept showing its face. A lot of times, hiring managers would go to bat for me, for he or she felt I was a good fit for the company. In the end, I was once again turned down. My criminal convictions do not contain sex charges or aggravated violent crimes. Ironically, I am providing job security for the workers for background check companies because I continue to apply.
One of the most surprising things to me was that I found this same attitude in some jobs I had applied for with a couple of ministries, where I was asked to take a background check. The story was the same. However, the Bible that I read does not teach such practices, and the last I checked there was a separation of church and state. Hence, for the Christian and the ones who hold such policies I present the following argument. In 1 Corinthians, we see Paul admonish the Corinthians to expel the sinner out of the church where the Corinthians believed they were acting in love by tolerating his sinful deeds. But Paul pointed out that they were not acting in love, but in pride. Therefore, Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 5:5 KJV “…To deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord Jesus.” Paul admonished them because they had not preached church discipline but instead tolerated and approved his behavior. Indeed, there are steps that lead up to excommunication from the church. Paul exhorted them to practice church discipline and excommunicate the unrepentant sinner in the hopes in satan’s dealing with him he would come to his senses and repent. Because of his deeds and Paul’s admonishment, they now believed they were doing the right thing and they did not want to let him back in the church because of his past acts. That is why Paul had to step in again in 2 Corinthians 2:7 ESV to direct the people and teach them another principle concerning the repentant sinner “… you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, discouragement may overcome him,” we see Paul encouraging the Corinthians to forgive and comfort the now REPENTANT sinner.
Here it is now going into a new year (2017), and I face the same challenges. The fact that I believe in Jesus, and I know He keeps me has kept me from being totally discouraged. For I have hope, a door will open. One of the things I am grateful for is a mind that thinks outside of the box. Which led me to ponder the underlying impetus in such a popular policy. Keeping an open mind, I could see a viable cause to invoke such a policy. However, I am not fully persuaded that the research and statistics that were reported depict an accurate finding in hiring persons with background checks, in light of variables. Nonetheless, my appeal would be to the churches who should be an influence to the government and not visa-versa.