“Those who look to him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.” – Psalm 34:5
Covered Faces, Cold Hearts
We are living in a time unlike any I can remember in my lifetime. As if the Corona Virus wasn’t enough, now riots are erupting around America after the death of George Floyd. Is there a dark narrative playing out right now? Is this the judgment of God or the signs that the end is near?
As I have spent the past couple of months in lock down along with the rest of society, the isolation and social distancing have taken a strange toll. People walk around the streets with masks. People don’t say hello. People are afraid to touch or come close. This is all amplified by the fear machine we call the main stream media. I have felt a coldness in the world these past couple of months. The need we all have for human connection and love has been under attack.
Additionally, America is in upheaval over the unjust killing of George Floyd. Simmering mistrust and hate have come to a roaring boil as major cities are looted, burned and destroyed. This has caused people to demonize the government, the police, and white people. This over reaction to injustice is being used to validate more injustice. The spirit of lawlessness is at work. As I struggled to put words to all the thoughts, emotions, fears and turmoil in the air, I have been reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:12. “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”
I believe what happened to George Floyd was wrong and there needs to be judgment, but the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. True justice looks like repentance, forgiveness, and an honest searching of our souls as a society.
As people march peacefully and some violently, they are wearing masks. It’s a super charged organism of rage without a face. It’s a picture of a nation whose heart has become very cold. A nation already divided has been divided even further. Lawlessness is manifesting both inside and outside of the government. Have you felt the icy blast and the accompanying numbness try to take hold of you? If there’s anything that must be resisted, it is cold love. We cannot afford to allow our love to go out. It is needed now more than ever.
This chaos has appropriately sent many slumbering saints to their knees like never before. What is the Word of the Lord to us today in America?
Those Who Look to Him
In times of crisis, we must turn our gaze in a new direction. Have you ever seen the face of a mother light up at the sight of her child? Have you watched as two people long estranged embrace at an airport? Have you seen the beaming smile of a runner finishing the race? The Word says, “I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:4-5
Hope must be reborn.
We need to guard our inputs. The more media you consume, the more anger, fear and coldness will take hold of you. But if you look to Heaven, if you lock yourself in worship and the prayer closet, your face will begin to reflect the radiance of the Father of Lights. Jesus came to take away our shame, our hiding, our anger and our sin. Isn’t it interesting that this is the opposite of what we are seeing physically manifest right now in much of society? What is the answer to cold hearts and covered faces? It is the living hope of the gospel.
Will you and I fight? We need Bibles not bricks, fervent prayers not angry chants, appeals to Heaven not the government, speaking life not taking it. As the church, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. Reconciliation to God and one another. Love is the only force capable of casting out hate and fear.
We are no different than any other generation in history. Dark days have come upon us. Can you name one godly person from Scripture that didn’t face fear, opposition, hate and the threat of annihilation? Our source is God Almighty and so we must take courage. His promises are just as real for us today as they have ever been. Let us take off the face coverings of malice, hypocrisy, fear and shame and instead look to Him with unveiled faces.
If the World Hates You
If these are the signs of the times, the church must be ready for Christ’s return. Before leaving earth, Jesus told his disciples what to expect. We need to hear this again today.
“If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the Word I spoke to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also.” John 15:18-20
As mentioned already, it is imperative that we keep our love from going out. It is mandatory that we stand firm in the midst of hardship and persecution. It is essential that we be about the business of the kingdom of God. You and I were never meant to fit into the world, to lay low and hope for the storm to pass, or to be worried about comfort or offending people. We have been given a holy mission to bring the gospel of the kingdom to the ends of the earth. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations and then the end shall come.” Matt. 24:14
In my many years of street ministry in Berkeley and San Francisco preaching and witnessing to thousands of people, I have experienced the hate of the world. Hissing snakes and prideful hearts resisting the truth and despising the messenger. Additionally, backbiting and false brethren refusing to help or love have only added to the burden. But who ever said this would be easy? Before resurrection, there is suffering.
Here are three keys to help you stay strong in the heat of battle.
Get free from the need to please men. The first way we stand strong is by remembering that our acceptance, love and worth do not come from the world but from the Word. People pleasing is rooted in two things: a fear of persecution and a misplaced sense of identity.
Attack in the opposite spirit. The second way we stay strong is through coming in the opposite spirit. We must do unto others as we would have them do unto us. We must not retaliate in the spirit of the world when we are wronged, accused, hated or opposed.
Stay plugged into the Source. Finally, we stand firm by abiding in the secret place of God’s Presence. We are promised that he will never leave not forsake us.
“In your presence is fullness of joy, eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Ps. 16:11
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.” Ps. 46:1
“Be strong and courageous; do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Church, this is our finest hour. We have been charged by Jesus to bring the gospel of peace into the violent, steaming whirlpool of wickedness on the earth. “Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Eph. 6:10-11
Don’t expect the world to love you. Don’t seek to please men. You and I are soldiers in the army of God and we have a mission that must be completed at all costs. Gird up your loins, take off the mask, and put on your helmet.
It’s time to march.