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.

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.

A Cosmetic Evil

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-4

“It’s time to put on the warpaint.”  I remember hearing the president of my Bible school say as he spoke to the girls in a class.  His folksy comment broke us all up, as we visualized the women putting on make-up to go to war.  His rustic comment, however made us think about what makes someone beautiful.

There is certainly a camouflaging of evil in this world.  It dresses up, and does its very best to attract us.  Its real intention is to lead us into an alley and then attack us.  It is a dark thing, and we do our best not to make it our focus.  Nevertheless, it is quite evil, and it attacks us without any regret or misgivings.

The darkness has decided to assault us, without any provocation.  We are living targets for his archers, and just to bring one of us down is a tremendous feat for them.  The evil that resists us is trickery, and deceitfulness, and we dare not diminish its evil and treachery.

“Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.”

Ephesians 6:12

The reality is that evil will wear a mask.  It dresses up, to entice us.  The dark is now wearing make-up, and it looks different to us.  The subtle work of the serpent is doing his work on us.  He has not really changed, his dark work still moving on us, “the sons of Adam.”

He injects confusion and deceit directly into our minds.  He administers this and we start to grow restless in the pitch-black.  We have lost the ‘morning-star’ and we have become adrift.  This dismal place has brought us nothing but pain and regret.

Our law enforcement are now working wearing bulletproof vests to protect them.  Perhaps the cautiousness should be afforded to us on a spiritual level.  We would do it best to take some of the same precautions, only on a ‘heart place. ‘ He provides us with an armor that can keep us safe. We must wear what He gives.

Becoming a Truthful Person

“Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.”  John 14:6, NCV

*********************

As we travel through this amazing life, we’ll experience so many things.  We engage every kind of scenario.  Much of it is good, but some will be bad.  When my Mom would give me medicine, she would often mix it with sugar.  But I could still taste the bitter, even with the added sweetness.

We have come to the place where we must swallow the truth.  We are learning to see that truth must be accepted.  We are brought to a place where we must take the truth in, and become true people.  The Word is the place where we start to assimilate what is real and true.  We are confronted “point blank” by what is real and trustworthy.  Falsehood flakes off us, and we begin to bask in the solid and eternal.

We are supposed to become people of the truth.  What is false should have no real business with us.  It is alien to the believer in Jesus.  It is a gear that no longer “syncs” in our mechanism.  We only mesh with the truth from this moment on.  We have been altered and we now see things from a brand new perspective.

We belong to the truth.  It is who we are, and nothing should distract us.  So much however assaults us, and we must focus pretty much exclusively on the things we know are authentic.  Our faith is to be bona fide and true blue.  There should be not the  slightest hint of duplicity.  We must avoid the trap of becoming fraudulent to our generation.

Each of us must accept the truth.  About ourselves, and about the unfolding of this life, about the reality of evil and salvation.  The presence of Jesus turns life upside down.  The things that were on the bottom have now moved to the top. Everything has been tilted.  It’s not surprising that we have issues as we try to sort things out.

I want to be a truthful person.  Lies and half-truths are fluent in my world.  I become inured to what is real, as I choose the lie.  And the amazing thing, is when I lie, the other person seems to know it on some deep level.  I suppose I am a terrible liar, and my attempt at sincerity only makes it worse.  I think I could make several million dollars if I could only teach people how to lie better.

Truth must become an intimate friend.  We need to be guided by what is real and sincere. “Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding.” Proverbs 23:23.  There has to be a firm grip on what is true, and certainly we cannot barter it away.  Christians are to be truthful, even in a world that isn’t.

 

Related articles

Some Simple Facts

•The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020, mental illness will be the second leading cause of disability worldwide, after heart disease.

•Major mental disorders cost the nation at least $193 billion annually in lost earnings alone, according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health‘s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

•When workers with depression were treated with prescription medicines medical costs declined by $882 per employee per year and absenteeism dropped by 9 days (Health Economics).

•Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, three-quarters by age 24. Treating cases early could reduce enormous disability, before mental illnesses become more severe.

•One in four adults experiences a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year, including our returning troops. One in ten children has a serious mental or emotional disorder.

•Suicide is the third leading cause of death for America’s youth ages 15-24. More youth and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined. The vast majority of those who die by suicide have a mental illness-often undiagnosed or untreated.

•Our jails and prisons are now the largest psychiatric wards in the nation, housing well over 350,000 inmates with serious mental illness compared to approximately 70,000 patients with serious mental illness in hospitals.

•One out of every five community hospital stays involves a primary or secondary diagnosis of mental illness.

_________________________

Source: NAMI.org

A Peace That Teaches

“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!”

Colossians 3:16-17, The Message

At times, there has to be a forceful unity in us and through us.  The idea of “tuning” yourself to someone else is a bit rattling, and even scary.  “What if they are confused, or indifferent?”  There exists a real fear of combining our hearts with another. It is a special challenge in our culture that stresses individual rights. We think ‘me’ when we should be thinking ‘we.’  We need to fall in step with someone else.

There also exists a need for us to cultivate thankfulness and gracefulness. To be blunt, this is not an easy thing.  It is most hard.  Cultivation implies so much– long days of work under a hot sun. But, if it works we will take it. For many of us, this could become our very next step in our discipleship.

This passage in Colossians seems to emphasize our real need to let the Word run furiously throughout our lives.  I have watched “The Running of the Bulls” in Pamplona. We are being chased.  But what I have seen is both beautiful and frightening.  The Book of Colossians can be like this.  So many challenges, and yet also very wonderful ones.

God’s Word however, is penultimate, it is to be supreme.  It simply demands total control of us. We are charged in these verses, to let the Word go crazy in our lives.  But it can’t rest stagnant and alone.  Rather we are to become belligerent and insistent voices that directs everything to Him. We stand, and then we reflect all of the glory to Jesus.

We learn in these two verses on the need for us to sing.  Singing can be something we grind out.  A great deal of effort exists before we can really make this take place.  But I still don’t think this is what the Apostle Paul has in mind.  Music is bound to happen inside our hearts.  We are to become saints of praise– singing saints.

Dear one, be a believer that sings.  Find your voice, and then lift it up to Him. If you have come to this point, I must believe you have truly understood His exceptional grace to you. But we also need to sing for our brothers. Countless times I have been encouraged by the songs coming from my companions of this amazing journey.