Seeing, Yet not Seeing Evil

Mat 21:14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.

Man and Water Buffalo, Philipines, 1945

This carving has been around longer than I have. My father purchased it in the Philipines in 1945 when he was there near the end of World War 2. What has this got to do with abuse and evil? Let me explain.

This carving has been present for my entire life. In the home I was raised in. In my parents’ home each time I would go there to visit. And now it is in my living room. It has been present constantly, so constantly in fact that I don’t even see it. If I were to envision our living room where it is, I probably wouldn’t even include the thing in my mental picture. Common things in our lives are often invisible to us. Seeing, yet we do not see.

And that is how evil is when we are raised up in it. When we live in it. When we are immersed in it. Sometimes we see it but just explain it away, but I think even more often we don’t see it at all. We don’t even think about it. It becomes like the air we breath, like the stop sign at the street out in front of our house that we pull up to every day as we go to work. You don’t even think about it. You stop for that sign, but if you tried later on to call up an actual memory of seeing the sign and stopping for it and looking both ways – you couldn’t. You draw a blank.

I suspect that psychologists have some kind of name for this phenomenon. I don’t know the name, but I do know that the thing exists. And this blinding effect of evil is….very evil. It enables wickedness to abuse us sight unseen. I suppose this is partly what Paul meant when he said that Satan can appear as an angel of light and his servants as sons of righteousness.

This is also why abuse victims sense such a HUGE feeling of relief – so much so that they often break out into tears and sobbing – when someone begins to NAME the evil they have been subjected to for so long. There it is! This is the thing! It is real and it is there and you aren’t crazy.

And those are just some thoughts that this carving brought to my mind today when I looked at it for the bajillionth time – and saw it.

Let’s Talk about FEAR – a Red Flag in Relationships

1Jn 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

None of us have been perfectly perfected in regard to love. As we grow in Christ, He shows us the ramifications of His love more and more with the result that fear diminishes more and more. While there will always be the positive, healthy, and right “fear of the Lord” by which we honor and obey Him, the kind of fear John is speaking of is not a positive trait. It is a fear that results from punishment in a relationship. We used to fear God in this sense because, before we came to Christ, we were under righteous condemnation by Him. We were guilty. The Law showed us our guilt and was a means of driving us to embrace Christ.

But now that we are in Christ – if you have been born again by faith alone in Christ alone – then this is your status:

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

The more we come to understand this, the more this fear which results from punishment will dissolve.

Now, what I want to talk to you about today is this business of fear in our relationships with people. Fear that is the kind of fear that results from punishment. A child, for instance, should have this kind of fear in the sense of knowing that if he disobeys his mother or father, he is going to be punished. At the same time, that parent-child relationship must be characterized by love, and the child must know this as well.

But in respect to our relationship now, now that we are adults (or even let’s say in our teen years), fear that is the result of punishment is something that evil people use to hold us in bondage. In this respect, fear is a huge red flag that a relationship is toxic. You often hear domestic abuse victims talk about having to “walk on eggshells” lest their abuser punish them with one of his evil tactics. This is just another way of describing the fear that dominates in such a relationship.

Lately I have been particularly interested in how a matriarchal abuser uses fear of punishment to enslave her family members. Of course most domestic abusers are men, but as I said, of late this business of the mother working an evil domination over her family has been in the forefront.

Whenever one of our relationships with someone is characterized by fear, something is terribly wrong. And I mean the fear that is the fear of punishment.

This thing is sooooo wicked. It creeps up on us. Very often it is present in families and the children grow up in that kind of fear-drenched environment, becoming what many people call “adult children” who keep right on fearing punishment from, for instance, their mother. It is this fear that is the vise holding us to that poisonous relationship. Fear that if we don’t do what we are told, fear that if we do not think what we told to think, fear that if we in anyway step out of the authorized path – we will be punished. Scowls, that “tone” in mother’s voice, a tirade of anger, the silent treatment, playing the victim role – on and on and on this evil arsenal goes. AND IT IS ALL DESIGNED TO ENSLAVE US BY FEAR.

I want to tell you loud and clear – any relationship in our lives that is characterized by fear of punishment is a relationship that the Lord wants us to be free from.

Gal 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

The thought of freedom from this tyrrany – from, for instance, a mother’s tyranny – can at first be fearful in itself. Think of the Israelites on that great day when the Lord led them out of slavery in Egypt. I bet many of them were afraid. What will Pharaoh do? And sure enough when they stopped at the Red Sea, here he came! Even across the Red Sea there were many times when they grumbled and said things like “let’s go back to Egypt where we had leeks and garlic to eat.” The enemy of our souls does not give us up easily. When you resolve to be free you can expect that Pharaoh is going to come chasing after you. But then, the Lord parts the Sea and shows us that path to freedom.

Love casts out this fear of punishment:

Rom 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Did you know that you can live in this freedom from fear-of-punishment relationships? It’s true. You can live free from a narcissist, enslaving, terrorizing mother or other such person – and you will thrive. The enemy wants you to think that you cannot. That a life without that toxin is just impossible. Slavery to it is all you have known – how will you go on? Well, the answer is – Christ! When you are cast out, He will be there to greet you and once you see Him, I mean REALLY see Him and experience the love He has for you, you will never ever want to go back to Egypt.

Let the enemy roar. Let mother weep and wail and rage. We are going to follow Christ and we are not going to permit the wicked to drive us back into slavery. Never.

Friends May Desert Us – Christ Never Will

FriJob 19:18-19 Even young children despise me; when I rise they talk against me. (19) All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me.

I bet you all can identify with Job, right!? This is one of the most painful facets of wickedness and evildoers – our “friends” ally with them and abandon us. Family turns against us and takes up with the wicked one, feeding his facade of “godliness.” In a real way, victims of evildoers are seen just as Job was – unpleasant and unclean as if they contracted some kind of leprosy.

Every real Christian is going to experience this betrayal in one degree or another. Jesus said it:

Mat 10:34-39 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (35) For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (36) And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. (37) Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (38) And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (39) Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

So, is this true or not? That is the question I would put to people who profess to be Christians and yet they insist on maintaining that this should never happen. That if “family” bonds are being threatened, they must be preserved at all costs. Is the cross the offense that Paul said it was?

Gal 5:11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.

The question then is not this (which is so often put to victims of evil): “Why is there conflict and alienation between you and your family members?” but rather this (which is properly put to those accusing the victim): “Why do YOU not experience any of this in your own life in your relationships?”

I want to write in another article about something I call “the Judas Moment.” The basic premise is this: there comes a time in everyone’s life – particularly in the life of a person who claims to be following Christ – when the Lord puts a pivotal question to us. Will we follow Him regardless of the cost, or will we look back at Sodom longingly? Will we take up our cross and follow Christ, or will we have one foot in the world and one foot in His Way? He won’t let us do it, you know. It is Him or the world. It is Christ or family and friends.

Most choose the world and you can be sure that when someone makes that choice, they are not going to walk with you in Christ’s truth. They will go their way, looking for someplace where they can continue to deceive themselves and others about their standing with the Lord.

Is it worth it? I mean, is it worth being hated by family and friends? Well, Jesus said it – if we find our life in this world, we will lose it. But if we lose our life here, we will truly find life in Him – and that is life indeed.