On Halloween weekend, I did something that if I can avoid, I will never do again. Take public transportation.
At the bus stop I was caught off guard by a trio of young people in costume — one as “Jesus”, another as the “Devil”, and a young woman as — I still don’t know what. When I arrived at the corner “Jesus” was busy entertaining the folks in a very irreverent way. The atmosphere quickly changed when he realized that I was not partaking in his shenanigans. As providence would have it, upon boarding the crowded bus, we all found ourselves standing side by side.
As they carried on their antics, with fear and trembling, as politely as I could, I said, “I know you don’t mean it, but it is not that I do not have a sense of humor it is that you are not showing respect. You have to realize that wearing a costume like that is a public mockery of the Savior that so many, including me, call their own.” “Jesus” responded by rolling his eyes and informing me that it was a “free country”. I told him that I knew where I lived and that in keeping with his expression of freedom why was he so surprised “when I exercise my freedom to say that your costume is in poor taste.” At that, the “Devil” stepped right into character and unleashed a torrent on me.
When I got off the bus, I thanked God that I had kept my composure and wits about me. I thanked him from keeping me from being provoked to respond in the flesh. Also, while no one exactly rallied to join my cause, I was grateful that no one rallied to join theirs either. Most of all I thanked God that I did not shrink back in cowardice. By God’s grace, I had stood up for my Savior, even though I’m sure others would have done better.
As I journeyed on, a few things came to mind that gave me comfort and courage.
1. Scoffers will come. 2 Peter 3:3 says “knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.” In other words, there are people in whom there is no restraint and no reverence of God. We should expect to encounter them. They will laugh at Jesus and they will ridicule him. As Christians, God has given us fair warning. It’s going to happen.
2. Blessed are you when you are reviled. Despite the fact that I grew up in NYC I’m really not a fighter. What’s more is, I really hate being misunderstood. I pressed into Jesus and was reminded of what he said Matthew 5. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11). Despite the reproach of these young people, God is keeping something for me. That gives me great comfort.
3. Pray for those who persecute you. The faces of these young people were — and still are, imprinted in my mind. Even “Satan” who was practically foaming at the mouth! As I thought of their faces, I truly loved them. I prayed that God would forgive them. They didn’t know what they were doing. I prayed that God would save the souls of all three and grant them eternal life in Christ Jesus.
Our time is so short. Really, what do we have, 70 or 80 years at best? Then eternity. A day is coming soon when those who glory in unrighteousness will be cast into utter darkness. According to the Bible, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Laughter will be turned into wailing. Sorrow will know no end. Let us pray for the grace to encounter the enemies of God in love and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray for grace to bless and pray for those who persecute us. And, if you remember, would you pray for those young people I encountered?