For the next several days I will be working on a new book project. During that time I will be posting some excerpts from the previous books. We begin with a chapter from“Bring’em Back Alive” – A Healing Plan for Those Wounded by the Church. This chapter is called “Your Bleating Heart Will Tell On You” and it deals with the uncomfortable truth that sometimes we choose to remain in victimhood.
(Click here to read first installment)
All of us can acknowledge intellectually that the offending shepherds and sheep will be held accountable for their actions before a Holy and righteous judge. But that is a difficult concept to embrace when you are hurting. And there is that other factor that we cannot forget. C.S. Lewis wrote that we tend to treat Satan one of two ways…we either take him too seriously or we ignore his influence altogether. In this case I am going to suggest that we need to be aware of one of Satan’s great strategies. And that tactic is to keep you and me firmly in the grip of victimhood. Eugene O’Neill wrote that “Man is born broke. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.” Satan would have us forget that being broken is an integral part of God’s process and that God does, in fact, “mend us with His grace”. The Apostle Paul who begged for the removal of his affliction or thorn in the flesh came to an important realization.
“and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. 2 Cor. 12:9 (MsgB)
Paul’s insight is critical when he writes, “I quit focusing on the handicap.” Sadly, we often choose to stop at the point of being broken. And the point of resignation is often heartbreakingly just short of healing. Emotional and spiritual hurts seem to engender a response unlike any other wound. With physical hurts we immediately seek help to heal. With emotional and spiritual wounds it seems difficult to move past focusing on the injury.
I am going to be really honest with you about my normal reaction to those who wound me. First, I get defensive and angry. The next step is usually the desire to get even. I am tempted to gossip when someone has wounded me with the intent (if I am honest) to dent their reputation. That strategy is a very subtle yet effective form of revenge. I can package it as “sharing my hurt with others” and still feel good about myself spiritually. Mixed in there is an occasional wish for bad things to befall the person (not real bad, just something uncomfortable). Any response other than the decidedly unattractive list above is a direct result of Christ living through me.
Most of the comments I received concerning my first book, When Bad Christians Happen to Good People, were amazingly kind and full of grace. But when I did get criticized I had to guard myself against reacting as a “victim”. Here are portions of a review that was written about Bad Christians. If you haven’t read the book, I made a rather honest and candid call for Christians to be accountable and responsible for the damage they do to others and the church. The author of this critique felt that I had the problem all wrong. In fact, he was pretty sure that I was the problem.
…to be continued