Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
The rubber is hitting the road, my friends and this season, this time, this hour is our crucial moment of action.
For decades we wondered how it would happen. Over the last twenty-five years, I studied and pondered, and anticipated the coming quote-un-quote end times and thought myself somewhat prepared for things to come. Not physical preparation, but spiritual—ready to stand firm on my rock when times get hard.
I had no idea.
Though Jesus gave us a road map to the last days in His discourse to the disciples found in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, living in the smack dab middle of some of these prophecies, I’m like—I didn’t see that one coming.
Are you there with me?
And I think this is kind of the point. Not from Christ’s purposes—He wants us to be watchful and prepared (Luke 21:36- Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.) but from the demonic purposes (1 Timonthy 4:1 –The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.).
When I cannot see the next proverbial shoe about to drop because I am so focused on our earthly rights, earthly liberties, and lack of earthly normalcy, I am not watching for all things God—some of which are going to be difficult to praise Him through. (James 1:2 – Consider it all joy, when you encounter various trials …)
The prophetic sign I didn’t see coming this past weekend was Luke 21:17, the “you will be hated by all people because of my name,” sign.
It Started with My Hair
I recently blogged about being persecuted (mildly) for my opinion on the explosive topic of mandatory shots, and that persecution started in a beauty salon. There must be something about me and haircuts because this encounter started with the same project—my unruly hair.
Out for a week-end getaway, it seemed a good time to get my over-do haircut because, remember, I’d canceled all the appointments with my current stylist because of said medical persecution in the salon a couple of months back.
After last-minute calling several local salons in Taos, New Mexico, I found a gal willing to take me on the next day. Because the owner explained there was construction in the area and I’d have to go behind a commercial building to find her shop, Steve and I decided to walk over and spot the place after a lovely dinner near the plaza. The temperature was an amazing sixty-five degrees and the evening magical (cue the Spanish guitar) as we strolled, evening lights twinkling in the breeze.
The Blond Young Man
We found the commercial building and started down a little alley beside it. As we rounded a corner, I saw a young man, homeless indicators around and scattered on the back steps of this building. Seated, he bent over to one side, a small white straw up his nose.
A boy and his drugs. Sad, sad, sight.
My heart sank but we walked by silent, heading for the condominiums another thirty feet away. I’d hoped we’d non-aggressively interrupted his activity and scared him off.
Into the wooded area with the super cool community of residences and businesses, we found the salon I’d be visiting the next day.
We turned to walk back to our truck on the other side of town. Passing back through the back parking lot of the commercial building and down the alley beside it (there was not other route), the boy and his straw sat on the steps, seemingly waiting for us. As we approached, he stood, arms opened wide.
“I know you were out for a nice walk, and I’m sorry you walked up on me, but … I … uh …have a respiratory infection and needed medicine…”
Steve walked a few steps ahead, but me and my unruly hair stopped to listen.
He carried on talking about the night, said something about a problem and not having support.” He wasn’t making complete sense, but he wanted to engage in a weird, apologetic way.
Living in Albuquerque, we encounter homeless people frequently and many, sadly, suffer from mental illness. Never has one apologized for his actions or talked in this likable way. So I stayed. Listened.
Steve had stopped as well but stood a few feet ahead of me.
The boy, probably in his late twenties, had a head full of shaggy blond hair. He looked healthy and not street worn like the increasing number of drifters at our Albuquerque corners.
The boy continued, his thoughts rambling a bit, but he slowed and said something about the condition of the world today. And then he took a breath.
I don’t subscribe to drive by evangelism (long African story), and I believe discipleship means an investment of time, energy, and resources. So, I’m not much for just throwing Jesus’s name around without having the fortitude to back it up in the moment. But in this instant, I went for it.
The Name Above All Names
“Do you know Jesus?”
Wrong question. (Or better said, right question.)
Even though, up until that point, neither Steve nor I had uttered one single word and the young man had done all the talking, he came unglued.
“Do I know Jesus?” he screamed. He spouted off some references to the Greeks, the Romans, and a Scripture that I couldn’t quite make out.
I waited, hoping. What for, I didn’t know. I only knew my feet were glued to the asphalt.
The blond man/child railed on, saying, “Yeah, I know Jesus. My father would beat me over Jesus and church and that ____ (insert bad word).
He rushed down the steps and got on the same plane as Steve and me. I shot a nervous glance at Steve, and like me, he seemed determined to just stay. No agenda, no words. Just presence.
When the boy took another breath, I said, “I’m sorry these things have happened to you.”
He retorted, “You’re not sorry. You’re a—and out from his mouth came a stream of words, a few bad, but most of which I didn’t recognize. Thank God.
Then he said, “Go. Get out of here.” He turned back for the steps, but whirled around again. Eyed me close. Dripping with sarcasm he asked, “You got a dollar?”
I hadn’t expected that question because, dumbfounded, I shook my head. I felt baited.
“I didn’t think so, Christian,” he retorted, seemingly repulsed. “Get the hell away from me.”
When neither of us moved, he rushed at me yelling, “Go!”
Steve, wise and realizing we weren’t going to have the moment I hoped for, motioned me away. He put his arm around me and we, together, stepped through the construction and back onto the street, heading for our car.
“Why didn’t I give him a dollar?” I asked, near tears. “Why didn’t I give him two?”
According to Scripture, we’re to give whenever someone asks. (Luke 6:30 — Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back).
Steve let me off the hook. “You knew what he’d do with the money.”
We have experience in the arena of addicts.
A couple of blocks away, we stopped at a red light and low and behold, I heard someone coming up from behind. It was him.
He started talking, mouthing, really, at us again. Instead of reaching into my purse and saying, here’s that dollar you needed … sorry I didn’t give it sooner, my jaw dropped and I stood there, unnerved. Even with other people around, he kept up the verbal smack assault.
Then he walked right through the red light, gave us a couple of hand gestures, and disappeared into the crowd.
When the light turned green, I came back to reality. Why didn’t I stop him and give him money this time? I’d just talked about it. I looked at Steve. Said, “I failed again.”
Steve said we should pray.
The rest of the night was hard. I cried. We prayed. A cloud of mourning hung at my heart all night.
Every time we went to town the next couple of days, I watched for the blond druggie with the mouth.
He was gone.
My Rubber on My Road
There is a myriad of lessons to learn from our brief and tragic encounter with a young man who might be compelled by demonic activity or might have a wound the size of the grand canyon. I’ll never know.
Not least of the questions I am asking is why was I so desperate to prove the boy wrong about Christians by throwing money at the problem? I hope I really wanted to demonstrate the Luke 6:30 verse and simply missed the opportunity.
But I also think we American Christians can falsely believe money solves most problems. Scripture tells us the love of money is a root of evil. I hope sharing money isn’t easier for me than sharing Jesus.
But as I’ve pondered my lessons over the last few days, I believe the Lord has me back in Matthew 24, verses 9-12:
9 Then they will hand you over to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 And at that time many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will rise up and mislead many people. 12 And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will become cold.
In all my sign watching, I hadn’t been prepared for a small taste of persecution. In all my years walking with Christ, I’d never had someone, face to face, call me names and order me away because of my faith.
It was heart breaking. And it was weird.
So I’m back to getting prepared. Doing more than dumbfounded jaw drops, I am stepping up. I’m not sure what stepping up looks like, be it demon exorcisms in parking lots, or emptying my wallet when asked, but I, by golly, am not going to be so naïve to not expect the name of Jesus to evoke crazy reactions.
I will be hated because they hate His name. That, we have been told.
I’ll end with the verse we started with. Look back at Matthew 10:22. Perhaps I should rejoice. After all, if I’m not putting myself out there for Christ’s sake, I’m not messing in the viper’s nests.
The times call for nest messing.
Be brave, be bold, and be ever prepared.
If I perish, I perish,