Tuesday, July 12, 2016
People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord. Proverbs 19:3(NLT)
This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 1 John 3:11-13(NLT)
Sixty years ago I remember my Dad setting up the projector in the living room. We were going to have a home showing of our vacation memories. The images contained on 35 millimeter slides were only about an inch square, but when illumined by a powerful light bulb, and magnified through the lens of the projector, they became our memories on the living room wall – 5 feet wide by 3 feet high. High tech of the 1950’s!
(Don’t worry, kids – someday your kids and grandkids will make fun of your iPhone toys)
Projection! When you do that with fond memories of crossing the West Virginia state line, or sliding down a river slew on a hot August day, the pictures bring a smile and remembrances of family bonding; it’s a good thing!
But when you project the sins you’ve managed to accumulate on your soul onto someone else, there’s liable to be murder afoot. That is what happened to Cain; his inner life of hatred was projected onto his brother, and family mayhem was born.
I have often marveled at how hatred can be directed at anyone who is trying to follow in the steps of Jesus; but Jesus said just that to his disciples, and He said it plainly:
If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. John 15:18(NLT)
The rub in all of it is that we cannot understand how a loving intention to be help, healing, and care towards anyone can be rejected and called evil. But it is not the help, or kindness people hate – it is how kindness magnifies their sinfulness.
A man once tried to lead a group within the church I was serving to have me fired as pastor. In a rare moment of openness, he told me the reason was that he didn’t like me and hated the way I was so calm, assured, and knew where I was going.
(Wow! Did he ever mis-read me…most of the time that calm look on my face is simply the empty stare of confusion trying to figure out which way to turn next, and wishing I could be somewhere alone where I can pray about it. I may be the perfect analogy of a duck on the pond: peacefully moving along the water’s surface, and underneath, where you can’t see, I’m paddling for all I’m worth)
Later, sadly, I realized this was projection; the man really didn’t like himself, and hated the way he treated his own family. Somehow the only way he could feel better is if he could dismantle those around him who seemed to act in a loving way towards their family and doing right. Unfortunately for that man, it was a little too much like Abel bringing an acceptable offering, and Cain being rejected.
Nobody likes having his sins exposed!
If you are tempted to judge someone else’s actions as phony or evil, take a few minutes to figure out why you’re angry. You might be showing the slides on the living room wall of what’s inside of you. Cut that other person some slack and love like Jesus loved.