3. Who’s To Blame For This?

3 12 2010

(These past few days I have been blogging on the book “The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. This post is a reflection of chapter 3).

The author opens this chapter with the question: If you have been genuinely mistreated, do you have the right to be offended?

Take Joseph (in the Bible, the one with the brightly colored coat, the one with the brothers who hated him and sold him into slavery who ended up in Egypt, in Prison, and eventually a leader in the country): he was clean. I mean, other then doing some bragging, he didn’t do anything to deliberately harm anyone and he certainly did not deserve to be accused of anything, nor the hell-hole of prison. He is a “victim” of so many injustices in the story, and usually when I read it I think of how noble he was to dole out mercy in the end rather than do what he legitimately could have: blamed.

Most people, I included, assign blame. We say, “If this person hadn’t done this…” or “If that person hadn’t done that…” then we would be whole, happy, successful, committed, more generous, loyal, kind-hearted, trusting or forgiving. If someone hadn’t offended us we would be less skeptical, critical, wary, closed, bitter, angry, or isolated. We hang on to our offense like a permission slip to be whatever we have become.

In fact, Joseph resists offense and goes as far as to say,

“Don’t be grieved about what you did to me. God sent me here…”

I could possibly say those words; but I am not sure how long it would take me to mean them.

The real lesson in the story of Joseph though is that he chose his response; he chose to not be offended. I am not sure if his attitude was always stellar in prison (those details aren’t given); I am pretty sure he questioned it. Still, as the author notes, prison was a time of sifting and opportunity (27) (think about that) in Joseph’s life. Prison became the place for Joseph to see the greatness of God over the impossibility of his circumstances (25).

It’s funny how I think God sees things the way I do. If someone mistreats me, abandons me, betrays me, I see heaven responding to crisis the way I do. It is as if I think Jesus throws up His hands and says,

“What are we going to do now!  I had these plans for Teresa and this other person got in the way and really caused a mess down there and now the whole thing has gone south. I mean look at the chaos that has resulted. How are we ever going to find our way through that?”

Writing it down looks crazy, but isn’t that how I kinda think? It is like I think God’s plans are tenuous (you know, fragile, weak) and at any moment Satan can come in and sideline them. The author says,

“Absolutely no man, woman, child or devil can ever get you out of the will of God! No one but God holds your destiny” (26).

I don’t want to sound like a cynic, but it is so easy to make “ra ra” statements as a Christ follower, but secretly doubt them because your experience doesn’t match up. When I am angry and hurt and disappointed it is REALLY HARD to bring my thoughts and my heart into alignment. It is super hard to bless those who curse me. Honestly, it’s a fight. My offense and I struggle with each other; at the same time, I can hear Jesus urging me:

“Resist…resist…resist this devil and it will flee from you.”

An offense is the devil, you know. Its personality matches Satan’s exactly: it steals, it kills, it destroys. It doesn’t feel good to live in an offended state. It doesn’t feel good to wait for someone to get what’s coming to them.

Do I want to live in God’s will? Then I must choose to let go of offense and the “need” to blame. Genuinely. Again and again if needed. This is some of what it means to be a Living Sacrifice. To give up the right to offense and choose instead to ask Jesus, “How are you trying to sift my life?  What opportunity for refinement are you steering me towards.”

God, you have not forgotten about me. You aren’t tripped up by people’s innocent mistakes or even premeditated actions (mine or theirs). Some injustices I have experienced I may have just perceived as an injustice; and maybe some have been genuinely unjust. Maybe wrongs haven’t been “righted” to my satisfaction and maybe they never will be. Who will I be in spite of all that? The whole thing — your plan — hasn’t been thrown out the window because the journey hasn’t gone as smoothly as expected. Your measurement of the successful execution of “Your Plan” probably…definitely…looks different from mine. I still actually have room to move, to continue on, because I have room to choose. Lord, the offenses I have hung on to, help me to release these for Your good pleasure; whatever has happened in the past is irrelevant in light of the fact that you will use…in fact, you always intended to use these things, for good.

— Teresa Klassen

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