Angry Faces

"As far as the east is from the west. So far has our Father removed our sins from us, and we should love to that extent, seeing in angry faces and false words, in hateful actions that may be to our detriment, what Jesus came to do."

WE ARE THE SALT of the earth and for this reason, persecution comes. Those who persecute us do not know the true reason why they act that way. Jesus understood men's hatred — the enemy is a thief whose desire is to steal, kill, and destroy, and these that shouted at Him were being like their father the devil. He said this to break through the noise and save some (Jude 1:23). And He did. Nicodemus, who came to Him by night, buried Him with Joseph of Arimathea. Cornelius the centurion showed faith in Him greater than all Israel. But also, He chose Judas knowing what Judas would do.

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

We face hatred in the public sphere often. It isn't any different. When the flood came, all the world was violent. Israel was sent to conquer Canaan in a series of God-planned battles. They were later taken into captivity by Babylon and Jerusalem was destroyed. By the time Jesus lived on the earth, the majority of the known world was owned by Rome. And we know of the persecution of the Jews which followed. Millions died at Hitler's hand. Millions of other cultures in other places. Because we are the salt (Matthew 5:13-16). Because we are the light set on the lampstand, and the devil keeps men in darkness. God is love. The reactions those who don't know Him have are hate and fear.

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” (Luke 2:1)

We are persecuted just like our Father is persecuted (Galatians 4:29; 2 Timothy 3:12), just like He was slandered by Goliath, and cursed by Pharaoh, just like the Pharisees looked in Jesus' eyes and spewed hate. No one has been spat on more frequently than Him. Yet His reaction was to send His Only Begotten Son to save the world. His reaction was love. Jesus came to restore and renew, to recreate us in love, and we are commanded to love.

We will emit what we have filled ourselves with. When squeezed what comes out? I have talked to some whose jobs require them to work with people, and many approach them with nothing but complaints. My reply was that these people don't know anything else. All they see when they are in any situation is what they dislike. You are what you eat, as the old commercial said. Our minds are like sponges which soak up whatever they are placed in. We who have chosen God, are placed in love, and so it overflows from us. When squeezed, love comes out. We overflow with it. We overflow with the Word of God. We spend our time in its pages and our thinking is renewed.

The unsaved man or woman fights a carnal war against a spiritual enemy and in so doing they have already lost. It's like going to war with a pool noodle. Something that's meant for entertainment is no good against a sword. But we are like our Father and should see them with His eyes. We see them through rose-colored glasses of endless compassion and that stiffens our shoulders and softens our stance. For our Savior spoke the words of our Father and His Father and did the acts of our Father and His Father, condemning the enemy and destroying his power against us, and embracing our faults to solve our need. Though we put Him there, He loved. To the point of death then back to life. And we awakened from our blindness dedicated to His task.

The apostle Paul said He would do anything to save anyone. He suffered beatings and shipwrecks, was imprisoned, and once lowered in a basket out a window. How far will we go? When we’re squeezed and it’s inconvenient, will we embrace the inconvenience or shove it aside? Did Jesus really want to lay hands on some who came to Him? I’m sure not everyone had a good motive. Paul and Silas had a damsel filled with a spirit of divination following them around crying out they were there to show the way of salvation, and one day, Paul had had enough. He confronted her, cast the demon out, and set her free. Her “handlers” went ape. They’d lost their income and hauled him and Silas before the court, who beat them and tossed them into prison.

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

“Are they ambassadors of Christ? This is so immature to say, but I am a better ambassador for Christ! I’ve done more, worked harder, been imprisoned more often, been beaten more frequently and more severely, received many more death threats, and experienced more life-threatening encounters. The Jews beat me with thirty-nine lashes on five different occasions. I was beaten on three different occasions with rods, stoned once, shipwrecked three times, and spent thirty-six hours stranded in the open sea. I have to move constantly. My life has been in danger on rivers, in danger from pirates, from my own countrymen, and from Gentiles. My life has been threatened in cities, in the country, at sea, and by those pretending to be on Christ’s team. I have worked long hours and often gone without sleep. I know real hunger and thirst, and I have gone without food more than once. I have even been with nothing, out in the cold, and naked. On top of all this, I am constantly pressured because of my desire to help the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:22-28)

They didn’t stay there, but at midnight began to praise God despite their troubles, and the earth quaked, and the prison doors opened, and their chains fell off. God delivered them, and the prison guard and his entire family were saved. Our willingness to the plan of God must be in submission to the Spirit of God. But we are aware of why people shout at us and point fingers. Our compassion runs deeper. As far as the east is from the west. So far has our Father removed our sins from us, and we should love to that extent, seeing in angry faces and false words, in hateful actions that may be to our detriment, what Jesus came to do.

We respond in confidence. Jesus told the apostles there would come a time they were hauled before kings and magistrates, but not to worry about what to say because the Holy Spirit would speak through them. I pray daily for discernment of His words so that I am never left speechless and confounded. I pray to be the salt. To be the city set on a hill even when my light upsets someone else’s darkness, and I trust Him to guide me so that what they see is His image and not my own. I can save no one. He can save anyone.

Image from Pixabay

Suzanne D. Williams, Author