I started a series on not becoming a victim recently excerpted from my book “Bring’em Back Alive – A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church”. I took a break from that series last week but I thought I had better not leave any potential victims hanging. So here is the next installment.
All of this leads to a hard truth that I am unable to avoid. It is incredibly easy to embrace victimhood when we are hurt. It is even more problematic when we are wounded and we are sure in our hearts that we have done nothing to deserve such treatment. In the last chapter we saw how Jesus asked the blind beggar what he wanted from Him. In the gospel of John we see another example of how Christ asked a seeker to make a decision to leave his woundedness behind, knowing that he could never again fall back on that as his identity.
Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people-blind, crippled, paralyzed-were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?”
The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.”
Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. John 5:1-3 (MsgB)
First, Jesus asked the invalid if he wanted to get well. What an amazing demonstration that God will not force Himself on anyone, no matter how obvious the need, if we don’t make a decision to accept His healing. Second, Jesus asked the man to do something. “Get up,” Jesus said to the man. He knew full well how much faith it would take to even attempt that seemingly simple task. When he made the choice by faith to leave his victimhood behind he was healed.
Alfred D’Souza wrote that, “For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” I have come to that same realization regarding the church. These flawed people, these perceived obstacles to my joy are the community that Jesus ordained for me. They are my fellowship life. Waiting for them to perfectly meet my needs will leave me frustrated till I depart this planet. Is that a pessimistic view? I don’t think so. And the reason is that I am also one of those flawed people that those around me have to deal with through the grace of Jesus. The amount of energy invested into forgiveness or bitterness is probably about the same. But the end results are diametrically different. One choice leaves us paralyzed in the past. The other choice gives hope for the future.
….to be continued