When You Are Scorned

“My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”  Psalm 42:3, ESV

I have a vivid and clear memory of meeting this well-groomed gentleman walking up the steps of BART in Berkeley.  He was dressed in the sophisticated twill jacket with a vest, and carried a elegant brief case.  I myself, had been preaching on Telegraph Avenue, very close to the open gates of UC Berkeley.  It was a solid and definite ministry, and the thick crowds were quite open to the Gospel.  After our pre-determined time, we shut down and all headed for home.

I was catching the subway back to the Mission district  in downtown San Francisco when I met him coming up the steps.  It was just him and I as we met.  He stopped, and looked at me, very focused and intent.  He then said, “I so wish we could feed you to the lions, again.”  He spoke coldly, and thoughtfully.  It was chilling.

It floored me, as I slowly realized he had no idea of how I spent the last four hours.  Whatever was animating him, it knew what I had been doing.  The amazing part of this, is that he was dressed as a professor, part of the teaching staff at UC Berkeley.  I was impressed initially by his bearing, and just his composure, and all of this seemed to be a  result of a collegiate decorum or a special demeanor.

As I considered this contact with him, I was shakened. He knew who I was, and what I was up to.  I wish that I could tell you that I responded to him, with a precise and zinging word that brought him to salvation. But that was not the case.  I was instantly and deeply deflated, and as I stood there looking directly at him, I felt vulnerable, and perhaps a bit humbled.

But what I was touching was the power of scorn.  It had become a bare wire, that was just there.  But the contact had not just been a ‘shocking’ experience of the moment (which we have so many.)

“3But first you must realize that in the last days some people won’t think about anything except their own selfish desires. They will make fun of you 4and say, “Didn’t your Lord promise to come back.  Yet the first leaders have already died, and the world hasn’t changed a bit.” 2 Peter 3:3-4, CEV

We must deal with an evil (propagated against believers) that scorns the idea of an advancing evil, or a darkness that pursues the believer.  As I think about this, it seems to be like one of those juvenile delinquents who let out the air of four full tires on our car.  We wish it didn’t happen, but we can’t pretend, by looking the other way.

We confront, face-to-face, an evil that twists us, and declares that things are not what they seem to be.  It all comes down to an awareness that our presence has a bit of “transformation” to it.  There will be scorners, those who know the art of mocking our faith.  They specialize in this evil, without fear.

Dear one, don’t let the scorn and mocking of a few malign and then destroy your faith. You have come too far to let this happen.  The vulgar voices shouldn’t sidetrack you or direct you down an evil path.  The scorn from the evil that surrounds you, it can destroy or strengthen you.  Take it as it comes.  Hold on to what is good.

The Future According to God

“I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.

Jeremiah 29:11, NCV

“So that for all future time he could show the very great riches of his grace by being kind to us in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 2:7, NCV

The word “future” is defined as “all that time which is to come hereafter.” It seems that it can never be held by us in a literal sense. In trying to explain it, I have come up with this idea of something that will exist or happen in time to come.

People who struggle with a mental illness  often have a problem with the idea of having a personal meaning.  I remember reading this, “Depression is the inability to construct a future.” (Rollo May)  I think what he is trying to say that depressives like me have issues with trying to make it all work.  It seems that hopefulness has been brutally cut out of our hearts, and we think and believe that we’re lost and cursed.

It seems to me that this is one of my own problems.  Closely related are the twin issues of cruel despondency and a terrible despair.  When these two run rampant through my life it is sort of a “spiritual mugging.”  I’ve just been totally ripped off. I’ve been completely drained of hope.  I don’t anticipate life and grace, instead I have profound pain.  I feel terribly alone in an ugly void.

The promises God gives us are made to energize and propel us into life and meaning.  The Father completely understands me, and has purposefully given me “a future and a hope.”   I once worked out a plan to kill myself a couple years ago.  It involved duct-taping heavy weights to my ankles and jumping off the dock in the harbor.   I had reached the point of complete despair. Everything was without hope.  And I really couldn’t explain it, if you asked me.

At times, our future is being woven with dark threads.  He does it patiently and expertly, as a trained Artisan.  We have His word that what He does will be a wonder and a marvel.

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We Are Hated

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as it loves its own. But I have chosen you out of the world, so you don’t belong to it. That is why the world hates you.

John 15:18-19, NCV

There is a concentrated sense of evil that is directed at us.  There is an awareness of a hatred that is unreasonable.  Jesus however, predicted it, and warned us to anticipate this brutality.  We are spiritually linked to Him.  The evil that came against Him, has now been shifted to you and I.

The world hates us, and we must accept this.  We don’t belong.  We are the monkey in the wrench.  Our presence ‘shorts out’ a smooth transition, that the Dark one has ordained.  We confuse and misdirect the black forces of darkness, most likely more than they do to us. The issues that we now face have become mutant and a bit perverse, to be honest.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Matthew 10:16

This is perhaps the most profound truth.  What can sheep do, against the wolves? We become their dinner. The predator overwhelms its prey, and we have to learn to walk in the dark.  Our faithfulness is considered to be an amazing feat, and we definitely let it work in our hearts.

“Wise and innocent.”  As we step into this caustic environment, these are two issues that will keep us safe.  “Serpents and doves.”  Both are received as positive concepts which will help us to manage the dark.  We have an awareness that He has directed us to walk through this ambush.  But we walk in a protective shield.

The Evil of Twisting Scripture

“It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.”

Judges 16:16, NASB

This has become a savage and vicious verse for me.  I used it to alienate a dear sister in the Lord. Vicki was a dear one who ran our office.  She had a heart that fully embraced our work of evangelism in the inner city in San Francisco.  She was an exceptional secretary.

She was wonderful.  She would constantly reach out to me, with the desire to see me established in this ministry of evangelism.  Her heart of kindness motivated me to press into the work of the Lord.  But there was something in my own heart that opposed her presence that was directed to me.

But her constant questions and comments every single morning had become a burden and a hassle.  Out of this frustration, I became somewhat more and more brazen and cynical toward her. I don’t really know why, really. Vickie continued to reach out to me, but I thwarted her work.  She wanted so much to contribute, and I figuratively slashed her tires with my dark skepticism.

One day I read this verse in Judges 16:16, “It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.”  I so very absorbed this and laid it on her.  I can see her now opening the Bible she kept in her desk.  She read with eagerness “the Word of the Lord” from me, and she was crushed. The tears streamed down her face.

Mishandling the Word like this should be a capital offense.  I have deeply regretted that moment when I slammed my sister with my twisted interpretation of scripture.  I wounded her very deeply, all ‘in the name of the Lord.”  I imparted to her with “my verse” which was a certain evil, in spite of my noble ministry of evangelism to the lost.

“Brothers, do not speak evil of one another” (James 4:11). Is not this a word which is much needed by some of us today? Alas, in some quarters the habit of discrediting others behind their backs has become so common that it is regarded almost as a matter of course; the mentioning to others of a brother’s faults or a sister’s failures, the repeating of unfavorable reports which have come to our ears—is so general that few appear to make any conscience thereof.

But we do this every day. We contaminate everyone around us with an awful evil.  At the first observation, it seems true and holy.  But as we press into it we find a powerful iniquity.  It is camoflaged and hidden.  But it is quite corrosive and detrimental.

Oh, dear one.  I hope you can circumvent this issue.  I hope you can resist the evil of misguided truth.  We effect so many, we come to this place of analysis where we can reject those on the boundries.  We place them into our “unacceptable” folder.