There’s an old Yiddish saying: If God lived on earth, they would break his windows.” As believers we know that God does live on earth. As we receive him and yield ourselves to him, he walks where our feet walk and touches what our hands touch.
But it was not always so. In order to accomplish that in us, the Omnipotent chose to limit himself. Setting aside his attributes, he took on human flesh and suffered the pains, temptations and perils of this mortal life. His hands could be pierced by splinters and nails. They were subject to blisters and calluses from wielding a carpenter’s tools. When the Shekinah glory of God began to shine through him, evil people decided to put out that light. Wood and nails, once the tools of his trade, became the instruments of his torture and execution.
Yet his light could not be extinguished. Those who saw him risen from the grave knew. Their attempts to tell others about the loving God who had come to dwell among men often met with bitter resistance, because, as the Scripture states, “…men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
That old Jewish proverb about breaking God’s windows rings so true. Its originators did not know that indeed God had come to live on earth. Yet the saying is profound, not only in retrospect, but in portent. Almost two thousand years after the unsuccessful attempt to extinguish God’s Light, some who hate the Light are still trying. When we who love Yeshua the Light of the World try to proclaim him and to glorify him by reflecting his light, some who have made themselves our enemies figuratively—and literally—break our windows.
Recently someone smashed a window at our Chicago office in Skokie, Illinois. We do not know if the vandalism was done by Nazis, Ku Klux Klanners, the Window Breakers Association of America or possibly by other Jews who hate us. (We seriously doubt that anyone in the Jewish community did it.)
In any case, we wanted to make sure that no anti-Semite could exploit the vandalism by accusing the Jewish community of having done it out of disdain for Christianity. To prevent that, our Chicago branch leader Jhan Moskowitz posted a sign on the boarded up window. In bold letters the sign proclaimed, “This window was broken by people who hate Jews.” (We can say that because after all, our faith does not negate our Jewish identity.)
After several weeks, a representative of the Village of Skokie came to our Chicago branch office. He urged Jhan “for the reputation of the community” to take down the sign and have the window repaired. Jhan explained that if we repaired the window at that time, precedent strongly indicated that soon it would be broken again. Nevertheless, for the sake of the reputation of Skokie, good citizenship required our Chicago branch to repair the window. Just six weeks later that window and two additional panels of plate glass again were covertly shattered.
We still suspect that Jewish people did not break those windows. Jewish people abhor that kind of violence because they associate it with the Kristallnacht in Germany (the window-breaking episode that ushered in the most loathsome persecution of Jews in modern history). Since that time, Jewish people usually categorize the deliberate breaking of windows as a symbolic deed that only a Nazi would commit.
Maybe the perpetrators hate Jesus as well as Jews. We would like to believe that the vandalism happened because of our Chicago staffs conduct—not bad behavior, but godliness and a firm stand for the Truth and the Light. Maybe those who are angry with God vented their hostilities upon us because we are proclaiming the Savior.
Actually, it is not so bad to suffer loss for the gospel’s sake. It has happened—and to a far greater extent—to better.and more godly people than us. Yeshua himself said, “The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you…” (John 15:20).
As we approach the season when many give special attention to the passion of our Savior, let us remember that Yeshua’s weapon against a hostile world was his own vulnerability. When slapped, he could feel pain. When pierced, he could bleed. When crucified, he could die. Yet his vulnerability opened the way for triumph. Even as Yeshua endured what God must endure when he chooses to live among men, he knew that soon he would rise victorious. Though it did not alleviate his pain or lessen his humiliation, that thought surely must have echoed in his heart at Calvary. And we know that one day we too shall be totally victorious in him.
Meanwhile, if we believers make our “house” God’s “house,” and persevere in serving him, we “get our windows broken.” Belonging to Jesus does not save us from the pain and humiliation of this world. Instead, he enables us to endure what we must endure to shine forth his glory. So, what are a few broken windows in the face of eternity?