Easter article 2021
Have you ever heard someone disparage the Easter story by saying, “Well how could God have done that to His Son – send Him to the cross. It’s child abuse!”? Besides the obvious fact that Jesus was a 33-year-old man by this stage, and not a child; He Himself refutes this argument when He says in John 10:18
No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.
Jesus was no victim. He freely obeyed God and He freely gave Himself over to the purposes and plans of God. And lately I have come to understand that Christianity is the very opposite of the popular modern narrative of victimhood.
Today people seem to revel in their status of victim, demanding that they get special treatment and that less be expected of them because of the hardships they have endured. Whether it is criminals demanding leniency because of their miserable childhoods, addicts demanding legalisation of their poison because they can’t stop, people groups demanding reparations because of past injustices, or people whose feelings contradict scientific fact demanding everyone reinforce their delusions.
Not that I am saying that we shouldn’t be compassionate to such people and give them the help they need.
What I am saying is that there is an unhelpful attitude of resignation and fatalism in this embracing of victimhood that encourages people to wallow in self-pity and demand punishment of the ‘privileged’, instead of owning their lives, shouldering their responsibilities and facing the consequences of their choices.
Christianity on the other hand, notwithstanding its call to lay down one’s life1 and be a sheep (!)2, is unexpectedly empowering. It acknowledges that “without God we can do nothing”3 and are “slaves to sin”4 but it also tells us that the very power that raised Jesus from the dead can fill us with power to live godly lives and to say no to ungodly passions5.
Christianity does not allow us to play the victim. Christians are no longer ‘poor me’ but ‘blessed me’ because everything good that they need is provided in Jesus.
Those who come to Christ, regardless of how hard the situations they have come out of, are required to first off, face up to their own sins and failures and repent6, recognising that none of us are only victims, we all have been perpetrators of wrongs7.
Then it requires one to seek forgiveness from those one has hurt and make reparations where possible8. We can, none of us, change others, only ourselves and our responses to how others treat us. Either we can take offence and harbour resentment, demanding vengence; or we can free ourselves through forgiveness to live whole and happy lives.
Christianity turns our heads around from looking back with regret, hurt, anger and bitterness at all the ‘unfairness’ in our lives, to looking forward with hope and faith at the glorious future that God has prepared for everyone who comes to Him9: To a time when there will be no more tears or hurts10 or injustice and when every wrong will be made right and every secret thing will be uncovered11.
Christians become victims, not of all the wrong things that have happened to them but victims of the undeserved grace and kindness of God12, which heals them of their pasts and allows them to spread that healing to others through kindness and doing good deeds, making the world a less hurtful place for all.
And even if terrible things happen to people after they become Christ-followers (which they will because awful things happen to everyone), they are still not victims because they know that God is sovereign and everything that happens does so because it has either been allowed or ordained by Him for their ultimate good and His glory13.
Victimhood is like a pair of distorting glasses that cause us to see everything twisted by our own hurt, leaving us angry, helpless and aggressive. Becoming a Christian is like taking those glasses off and seeing things as they really are – our lives are messy but meaningful, others are flawed but forgiveable, our hearts are rotten but renewable, history is polluted but purposeful, and the future will make sense of everything and all our suffering will be worthwhile14.
2 Peter 1:2-4