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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HATRED MAKES YOU STUPID: A Family Conversation

by Susan Fox

Imagine a super-intelligent creature, whose whole desire is bent on evil.

But every time he thinks of some terrible tragedy to inflict on mankind, the loving God brings great good out of his evil actions. He does evil, but good triumphs.

“Curses, foiled again.” That is the refrain of Satan.

Case in point: Roughly 2,000 years ago, he plotted against what he thought was a man named Jesus. He organized Jesus’ Jewish detractors to ask him tricky questions. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?” Satan probably thought, “Yeah, answer that one.” But Jesus answered with a question, “Whose image is on that coin?” The answer being “Caesar’s” So He answered, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.".(Mark 12:17) And Mark goes on to say, “they were amazed at him.”

Jesus had an answer for everything they threw at him. The Sadducees, who said there was no resurrection, came to Him with another trick question. A woman was married consecutively to seven brothers and had no children with any of them. So at the resurrection whose wife would she be as she was married to all seven? He told them they were in error. “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead -- have you not read what God said to you, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living." (Matt. 22:30-33) And again the crowds were amazed at this.

Finally, Satan stirred up so much hatred against Jesus Christ that the Jews spurred Pilate to condemn Jesus to death on the cross. There is a striking literary image of this in the movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” During the scourging at the pillar, a twisted ugly figure with a monstrous baby circles the crowd as Jesus willingly submits to horrible torture by the obviously brutal Roman soldiers. Satan gloats.

But what a short time he has to rejoice! In three days, he finds out that Jesus has risen from the dead! He is again teaching and preparing His apostles for Pentecost when the Church will be born and thousands converted. The apostles will reach the whole world with Christ's message, going first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles and finally to the ends of the earth -- to peoples never even known in that time.

“Curses, foiled again!”

Christ’s death was Satan’s biggest blunder.

But he keeps making the same mistake over and over again. “Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20) And so the saints and martyrs in all centuries since have suffered through hatred and persecution.

This led to my family conversation. A very holy man died violently Thursday morning in a car accident in India on his way home for Christmas. The blows to his head apparently were quite awful according to eye witnesses. This priest was a dear friend of my family and friends, and he had started an organization that led many onto the path of holiness. His life was incredibly fruitful.

Father used to tell us that Satan often threatened to destroy him -- even when he was a little boy. But Father knew that if God ever allowed Satan to kill him, God would use his death and suffering to save many other souls. It’s called the communion of saints: united with the sufferings of Christ in love, our peril is helpful to others, redemptive in nature.

Given the sudden violence of this priest’s death at a fairly young age, my family and I reflected that it was like Satan finally got his chance to viciously end the priest's life. He must have thought, "I will put an end to that organization by killing the priest. The good they are doing will stop."

So Satan must have also thought when he agitated for the death of Christ. He thought, "His apostles will be demoralized. The work of Jesus will be at an end." If he had but known the good that would come from the tragedy of Christ’s death, Satan would have been stirring up the Romans and the Pharisees to save His life -- not destroy it.

But hatred actually makes you stupid. Think of Satan, probably the most intelligent creature God ever made, certainly one of the most beautiful. He should have realized that great and infinite good that would come out of the death of Jesus Christ, true God and true man. But hatred blinded him. Hatred confused him in his innermost thoughts.

How funny that a creature so bent on causing evil, succeeds and then finds his best efforts have unintended good results because God is in control and God is love.

We -- his family and friends -- will miss Father. Jesus' disciples were terribly demoralized for three days after his death. But on Pentecost they were up and at them -- busy preaching the word of God to the multitudes; exultant when they were allowed to suffer abuse and death for the sake of Christ.

Father used to say that dying was just a change of address. You go to sleep and you wake up somewhere else, and God says, “You are going to live here now.” It's the company you keep that is important. Father used to urge us to become PIGs (Planted In God). "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Matt 24:35) Anchor your heart in the Word. Father did. He always kept company with Jesus.

And now Satan must have realized it. “Curses, foiled again.”

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Ps 116:15)

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