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Posts Tagged ‘revenge’

The Enliven Project (on sexual violence)

The Enliven Project (on sexual violence)

There’s a part of me that appreciates the anger and determination to make things right after the rape of Dinah. In today’s news, there was a report on the percentage of rapes reported out of a 1000 (5-25%), prosecuted (9 – not percent, but a number), and of the 9, only 5 become felony convictions. (See Enliven Project) And yet. . .

Genesis 34: 13a, 15, 25

Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully . . . We will enter into an agreement with you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males. . . .  Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male.

And this is always the challenge when confronting our personal sense of betrayal with God’s. It’s not that God cannot work decisively in the face of evil (note Sodom and Gomorrah), but the point here is that God prefers having the vindication God’s way.

“But, but, but” I say, “Your way is so slow. I want to see the revenge. I want to feel it. I want to bathe in it. It’s my right. Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Is it?”

When humans take on the role of avenger, we tend to overdo it. After 9/11, we raped a country in the name of weapons of mass destruction. And in the end, more were lost, including our own. Evil is portrayed throughout history and every push back takes us one more step closer to annihilation. Soon, I’m sure, the next payback will be nuclear. And what then?

Whether it’s on a world scale or a personal exoneration, we will not handle it well. Even our court system has gotten all muddled up and in the name of fairness, the guilty go free because one lawyer was craftier than the other.

We are all still living Romeo and Juliet or the Hatfields and McCoys.

Yesterday, my pastor at Restore Church, talked about people being the “Sin Police.” We judge and demand, we compare and we condemn. All in the name of righteousness. It’s not a good plan.

Will God avenge the good? Is God sovereign? Can God operate even in this mucked up generation? I believe. But I have to make room for the ways of God.

“There is a way that seems right to a man [human], but in the end it leads to death.” [Proverbs 14:12]

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Clearly, if we must be told, as a people, to “not” hold grudges or seek revenge, it must be a norm or tendency. My kids call it “paybacks.” Instead, we are to love our neighbor and why? Because the Lord God says so.

Leviticus 19:18
‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Of all the things I struggle with, I don’t believe seeking revenge is that high on my list. Grudge-keeping on the hand, is pretty good sport in my head. It’s just one more list. I keep lots of lists and the grudge list, whether I want to admit it or not, is hanging out there waiting for additions at a moment’s notice. It’s amazing how quickly I can drag up the list once I’m wronged again. Not good.

The solution, based on this scripture, is to love that neighbor. And not just love them in general, but with the same care that we love ourselves.

There’s a trend out there to turn this command into a kind of self-serving mandate: I must learn to love myself first. I think that’s self-help myth. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all love ourselves enough to keep eating, sleeping, and entertaining ourselves. That’s not to say we don’t abuse our bodies, use terrible self-talk, and procrastinate. My guess is that the best way to stop self-bashing is to stop bashing others. In the meantime, if I could just give the courtesy of basic acceptance, like food, shelter, clothing, and remember that everyone is working the human thing. We all make mistakes.

I think it’s time to erase the grudge lists. Delete, delete.

Anyway, there’s good reason to do so. God says so.

There is no grudge, no revenge, no mistake, no betrayal that is bigger than God. If I can’t figure it out, if I can’t muster up the reasons to let these things go, then I may have to drop back to the common denominator: God says so.

As a parent, how many times have I finally used this reason. Sometimes, it’s just too complicated, too time-consuming, too frustrating to explain the ins and outs of why a particular decision must be made. Kids don’t get it. And so, I drop back and punt: Because I said so. Apparently, in this case, God feels the same way. Stop with the lists and planning for evil and love instead. It doesn’t have to be Valentines Day with hearts and flowers and chocolates, just the basics, just simple courtesy and respect for the core of the other person, the sacred core created by God.

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It’s important to seize and exercise forgiveness; otherwise, the whole point of the Christ/Messiah sacrifice is lost. It’s God’s forgiveness and intentional dis-remembering that manifests in the crucifixion and renews our direct access to God.

Hebrews 10:17-18
Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

It’s big: forgiveness. There is more power in forgiveness than any other aspect of faith. Forgiveness works for both believers and non-believers. It’s like gravity. If it’s genuine, it generates freedom.

But here’s the part that took me a long time to truly understand. Forgiveness is for the giver moreso than the receiver. It is my act of forgiving that frees me from the results of unforgiveness.

I did not say that this makes forgiveness easy. But it’s benefits are not lessened or increased by its difficulty.

Forgiveness begins with a choice, not with a feeling.

When I forgive, I can begin to let go of the expressions and allies of unforgiveness like anxiety, anger, distrust, bitterness, hardness of heart, worry, conversations and images stuck in replay, negative expectations, disappointment, and even ill health.

To withhold forgiveness is a direct assault on the heart that the Holy Spirit is mentoring within.

I begin each day now with my acknowledgement and need for forgiveness — specifically! I name everything that comes to mind. Sometimes, those things are from yesterday and sometimes, I’m surprised to find a piece of old baggage cropping up, a hidden room who’s door must be opened, a pebble that is not a pearl at all, but a stone of that has been secretly growing within a shell of resentment. God reveals as I am able.

Some people are slow to forgive because they believe this sets the other person free. Nothing could be further from the truth. Once we let go, the judgment lands at the feet of God. While I hold on to any pain that someone else has caused me, no matter how unfairly, I hinder the work of God.

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord [Deuteronomy 32:35.” [Romans 12:19, Amplified]

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