Face of An Angel

(pic: Giovanni Battista Piazzetta: St. Stephen, One of the Seven, Proto-martyr, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., late 1730s)

Suspicion. Rumors. False accusations. Been there, done that? Yeah, me too. I\’ve been on both ends: both the suspected and the suspicious, both the one lied about and the liar. One feels powerful, the other vulnerable.

Suspicion is a crafty one, isn\’t it? It makes us look sideways at each other, it fosters distrust and distance. We wonder, we judge, we rarely confront or seek the truth. We often assume and demonize…then we stand apart and help others see it our way (i.e. start rumors). Paranoia is around the corner…

Rumors: Scripture flat out says starting and passing rumors is a terrible sin that does great damage (the book of James really eyeballs the tongue). Rumors stem from suspicion or jealousy or some other dark corner of our heart. Where do they end? Someday we\’ll know, on Judgement Day we\’ll know what horrible things our rumors contributed to. Conspiracy theories are little more than well developed, compelling rumors…watch out for those…

When we feel pretty sure about our view, we start making accusations, we look the suspected in the eye and seek to deface them publically, make them small and dark in the eyes of others. I wonder how often we\’re actually dead on, how often we\’re 100% accurate in our assertions. Unless we\’re experts in the field and have a pretty sound understanding of what has/is happening (like Jesus accusing the Pharisees of being hypocrites), I think we\’d better stand down, shut up and sit out.

In at least two different jobs I\’ve been wrongfully suspected of theft or wrongdoing. The first time I didn\’t realize it was happening until it was over because even though the writing was on the wall, I couldn\’t fathom being suspected of something so dark. We were dirt poor, yes, but theft never even crossed my mind. The money was found later at the bottom of the bag of the person I gave it to weeks earlier, and she was SO apologetic for suspecting me, she said she figured that we really needed the money…that is when it hit–I had been suspected (accused?) of stealing the company\’s money. I about hit the floor. I think that is when the fear of being suspected took root in my heart…rattled me good and is still something I battle with. Seems what we fear most finds us, haunts us (would you agree? am I alone in this?)…I realize it is rooted in what other people think, so focusing on God and caring only about what He thinks is my best course of action. I know, I know, working on it….

Another example of this is the presidential race. Have you gotten the emails yet? Heard the crazy rumors? Seen the ads? You know, the ones that deface, distort, abuse and accuse? Recently I got an email about the candidates\’ tax plans and how they would affect regular Americans\’ bottom line. It contains website addresses that claim to verify its information. Not surprisingly, it is skewed toward one candidate (websites skewed too?). Is it true? Well, I haven\’t studied the candidates\’ tax plans, I\’m not an accountant nor a tax expert, so unless I\’m willing to dive in and do all the research and weigh the truth of the email, I\’m not going to send it on, not even give it a close gaze…quick delete will do, thank you. It may seem harmless to take part in political jockeying when a race is in full swing, but do we realize what we\’re doing to the person being slandered? Do we realize what we are doing to the heart of the one we \”share the latest\” with? Do we realize we\’re sinning, displeasing our Lord? Do we realize we\’re polluting our own heart?

Oh, yeah, and then there is the heart…it all stems from there, doesn\’t it? Best to watch where our heart is, not get too puffed up and think we\’re right…seek God, pray for others, be filled with mercy and move only at His command, and then do so prudently with a heart full of love for those who walk in error, they need us to love them, friends…

Like stated earlier, when falsely accused we have the option to look Up. Just this a.m. I read in Acts 6 (for my email Bible study) about certain troublemaking Jews who propagated rumors and stirred up the people and leaders against Stephen and seized him and brought him before the council (i.e. before judges) where false witnesses testified against him. The last verse of that chapter gives me hope that God is truly with us in those kinds of moments for \”all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.\”

An angel\’s face, could live with that…

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