As word of Chuck Colson’s passing spreads, a number of commentators are offering tribute to the man whose very life is a testament to God’s redeeming grace. Here are a few shared thoughts:
“For more than 35 years, Chuck Colson, a former prisoner himself, has had a tremendous ministry reaching into prisons and jails with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I get to Heaven and see Chuck again, I believe I will also see many, many people there whose lives have been transformed because of the message he shared with them.”
It is the central paradox of Christianity that fulfillment starts in emptiness, that streams emerge in the desert, that freedom can be found in a prison cell. Chuck’s swift journey from the White House to a penitentiary ended a life of accomplishment — only to begin a life of significance.
“Although Colson’s achievements were remarkable, his example is more important. Back in Watergate times, his secular opponents loathed his spiritual journey and longed for him to stumble and fall. Almost four decades later he has confounded his critics and often won their admiration. This is because he has walked his talk.”
“Like, say, the pro-life sentiments of Sargent Shriver, Colson’s prison work served as a kind of countersign — a public reminder that his belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ shaped his public commitments rather than the other way around. And it suggests a possible answer to the question of how religious believers should comport themselves politically in a polarized age.”
“[Chuck] is the ultimate story of redemption. In all of my dealings with him in the last 15–20 years, I found him to be one of the most kind and gentle and thoughtful human beings I’ve ever met. His life was a witness to his deep faith, and he nurtured the faith of others in deep and profound ways. We can talk about all the things he did to influence our culture and stand for principles of faith. To me, as remarkable as they are, [it’s more remarkable] that he mixed that with a life in which he took a personal interest in the salvation of so many people he came in contact with and did so in a thoughtful, compassionate, and caring way.”
“In the eyes of the world, [Chuck] was a person who had it all and then lost it all. But in God’s eyes, Chuck’s path in life was just preparation for His higher purposes. Through the full picture of the life Chuck Colson led, Americans saw that a broken man can accept the gift of redemption and embrace a new life devoted to the service and redemption of others. This will be his legacy.”
“Like no one else, Chuck had an amazing ability to spend the morning with the very least of these – prisoners rejected by their families and outcast by society, and then spend the afternoon with the president all the while feeling completely comfortable with both. I often watched in amazement as Chuck would walk into the darkest of prisons and greet a group of inmates. It was not uncommon to see a prisoner, hardened by a life of violence and depravity, dissolve into tears thanking Chuck for sending Christmas gifts to his children through Angel Tree and expressing his new found faith in Jesus.
“Chuck Colson embodied and made possible an immeasurable amount of good in the lives of the people, families and communities he served in bringing a message of faith and hope. Ann and I are praying for Patty, the Colson family and all the people he touched throughout the world who will miss him.”
“Chuck Colson’s books … convinced me that if this man was not a sincere convert and penitent, then the category did not exist. Every word in those books — the painfully honest self-appraisals — radiated sincerity. As his post-Watergate life proved, he devoted himself utterly to helping the most desperate and despised members of society.
“This is a deeply cynical country these days, and yes, there is much to be cynical about. But there are people who achieve moral greatness. And one just died today. RIP.”