Deep inside each of our hearts, I think there is a temptation to believe we’re a victim. There’s also a fight against being a victim.
It has caused us to be clouded from seeing those who really are the vulnerable among us, because they no longer fit the mold we’ve been persuaded to visualize: ourselves, or what’s familiar to us.
And we’re paralyzed, totally unable to help them, because we each believe our own victimization is most important.
So we draw lines in the sand of who is “good” and who is “bad” based on which “side” we agree with most. Whoever helps my cause is my friend. Whoever does not is my enemy.
But you know what Paul reminded us about our enemies…we bring them dinner.
Paul would know. He was a victim. But he wasn’t.
We cannot deny the persecution he witnessed and endured. Yet in its face he declared – consider it a blessing to suffer alongside Christ.
James said to call it joy.
Expect it. Stare it down. Laugh at it. Know it does not have the power or the final say.
Victims set free, not from this world’s oppression but who have been eternally set free to be established as victorious, know how to fight.
They fight for others, not for themselves.
Because they know their eternal identity is not one of a victim.
They fight for others to see the Light of this hope and keep their sight focused on the One who will return and abolish their oppression once and for all. They fight to protect, so they can be the hands and feet of this Truth even if it is not, and cannot be yet fully realized.
So we should be able to rally around this glorious Truth – shouldn’t we? We should be able to all get behind it and push back against evil – shouldn’t we?
Until we decide the victim still kind of looks like me.
But sin does, too.
It looks like all of us.
There’s this concept that’s been at the forefront of my mind. It’s about longing: where it comes from and where we can place our hope that it is going, because I refuse to believe my soul will be forever bound by a relentless longing for both things of this world and good things that point to Christ. Longing, even godly longings, highlight our temporary separation from our permanent home, and they live and die on this earth.
It was the temptation to give into deceit that planted the seed of longing, which led Eve in the path of disobedience and sin entering the world.
She wanted to see like God. She wasn’t meant to.
Now we are left in the aftermath; longing for what was, longing for what can never be, and longing for what will eventually be in the end.
Some act on this longing by fighting for self no matter the cost. But longings redeemed are intended to point beyond ourselves, to what’s coming next.
It’s this relentless longing that also reminds us we are INHERENTLY sinful. Not only do we commit sins everyday through our conscious choices and missing the mark – failing to live the way we are called to live or be the person we are created to be – but sin is ingrained in our bones. It infects the world, the very ground we walk on. It infects our hearts, minds, bodies, souls, ideas, words, and every single element of our being.
Still, this reality is met with grace. It is by grace we have been saved.
This is GOOD NEWS for our salvation, and points to its assuredness. No matter how far we’ve strayed from the path, no matter how much we try to listen to that voice in the back of our head that makes us question our sincerity, or how much we struggle with what we do not understand, our salvation is not based on these things.
Everything our hearts and our hands touch is tainted. Whether or not we are in Christ is not tied to that time we believed we did something right, or that moment we thought we were most sincere, or the instance where we affirmed belief without thinking about that small hint of wondering how or why or what if. It is based on grace.
And it is by grace that we are no longer victims to sin in any form or shape.
We are not victims to the sin confining this world and we are not victims to the sin inherent in our brothers and sisters in Christ; even when they intentionally commit a wrong against us, or when they fight for and inadvertently hurt us all at once.
It is by grace that we can fight and maybe accomplish some good, because it’s not anything we can do on our own.
It is only by grace that we can stare at the opposite of what we know God has declared good and bring them dinner, instead of bringing more strife and drawing another line between people who were meant to live in community – even when they break our heart.
It is by grace that when someone brings us dinner, and our stomachs turn and our hearts cringe because we don’t like the sight of our own sin, we might respond with open hands and an open door to share the grace and kindness we’ve been given.
It is by grace we can keep bringing grace to those who continue to respond with insult and injury.
Grace doesn’t fit the narrative, because grace fights for there to be no more victims among us, and is only accomplished in the end.
Grace invites everyone to the table to share in the fruit of repentance and declares there is still room here. It erases lines and convicts us of the truth that when we enter into eternity we will be surrounded by the faces of those we fought for and those who fought for us, those who fought against us and those we fought against – if they are in Christ.
And what will define that moment of eternal reconciliation and community – profound joy or gut-wrenching conviction – may be determined by whether we see ourselves as a victim or victorious.