Archives For revenge

“Recalculating”

Jeff Olson —  April 12, 2012 — 4 Comments

A comedian once mused that he wished someone made a GPS for husbands. It went something like this:

GPS: “Compliment your wife on her appearance.”
Comedian: “Hey honey, you look really good tonight.”

GPS: “Ask her about her day.”
Comedian: “How was your day, sweetheart?”

GPS: “Pretend to be listening.”
Comedian:
“Oh…yep…really…”

GPS: “Compliment your wife’s hair.”
Comedian:
“Uhmm…Hey, your hair doesn’t look as gray as it did yesterday.”

GPS: “Recalculating.”

The Bible is far, far more than a GPS, but it records Jesus dropping “GPS like” directives to help us “recalculate” how relationships are to work now that He had come.

Here are just few:

“Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31, NLT).

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37, NLT).

“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, NLT).

“There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent” (Luke 24:47, NLT).

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus birthed a new way of doing relationship with others and with God. The fallen way of selfishness and revenge and pride is now being replaced with His Kingdom way of love and reconciliation and humility.

As theologian NT Wright puts it, “It’s a way nobody’s ever tried before, a way that is as unthinkable to most human beings and societies as—well, as resurrection itself. Precisely. That’s the point. Welcome to Jesus’ new world!”

Sexual Abuse Scandal

Tim Jackson —  November 16, 2011 — Leave a comment

It has been hard to miss the top news story of the past 14 days on US media outlets–the child sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the campus of Penn State University, engulfing a prestigious football program, it’s coaches, and administration. The University has come under fire for how the current coaches and staff handled the alleged sexual abuse of young boys by a former PSU coach.

As a boy, I grew up an hour away from State College, Pennsylvania. I’ve rooted for Penn State football for the last 50 years. It’s hard to describe the thoughts and feelings that have been pulsating through me for the past two weeks.

Disbelief. Disgust. Grief. Outrage. Shock. To name a few.

But primarily? Heartache.

As a counselor who has spent hundreds of hours helping many men and women work through their past of childhood sexual abuse–dealing with the trauma, the pain, the shame, the secrets, and the long-term devastation of abuse–to rebuild productive lives, I am angry.

Angry that anyone–no matter what their status is within any organization–from janitors to presidents–would allow any form of suspected child abusive behavior to go on without it being quickly exposed to the proper authorities and decisively addressed, so that first and foremost the children are protected and those responsible are held accountable.

But, in spite of how I feel, I must reserve judgment for those who know all the evidence in the case. I simply don’t know what really happened. What I do know is the allegations I hear reported in the media and the published grand jury report. And, make no mistake about it, the allegations are bad.

But, there is a process that cannot be hijacked in the media’s court of public opinion. I can quickly jump to conclusions about what has happened and what should or shouldn’t be done to those involved without knowing the full details of the case. That’s what trials are for.

My concern is that in the media feeding frenzy for the most salacious story out there, that what gets whipped up in the watching audience is a lynch mob mentality that is dangerous.

It’s clear what is needed: protection for children and justice for those who abuse them.

I know my own weakness and my snap judgement without ample evidence can quickly cross the invisible ethical line between seeking justice and justifying revenge. God reminds me that none of us are qualified for the task of vengeance–not by a long shot. That’s His realm exclusively. Mortals need not apply.

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Rom. 12:19, 20)

James 1:19, 20 also provides a well heeded warning:

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

But lest we think that God takes abuse lightly, consider Jesus’ own words in Luke 17:1, 2 regarding those who would dare to harm a child:

“Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”

The allegations and charges of child abuse are serious. The coverup is evidence that something is seriously broken and needs to be fixed. The power and money that the big business of college sports wields is a challenging force that must be harnessed lest it run wild and unbridled. Hopefully, this scandal will bring that conversation to the forefront as well.

And finally, I’ve heard more public appeals and witnessed more examples of public prayer for all the victims involved in this situation than I’ve seen since 9/11. That is telling. In times of pain and desperation when we need wisdom to know how to respond to a tragic situation that is unimaginable in it’s scope and destruction, we naturally turn to the only true source of comfort, strength, and wisdom.

Let’s pray together that we will all strive  . . . “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). If we do, then something good will begin to take root and grow out of a horribly destructive and dark situation.

 

The Desire for Vengeance

Jeff Olson —  February 10, 2011 — 4 Comments

I once spoke with a man whose son had been brutally murdered by a close family friend. In the years to follow, the man talked of his burning desire for revenge. He said he wanted to turn this tremendous burden over to Jesus. He knew that bitterness had overtaken his heart and crowded out everything else that was good. But it seemed like no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t let go of the desire for vengeance.

One of the things God put on my heart to say this man shocked him at first, but it also freed him up to see he had other options. I told him that his desire for revenge was not completely off-base or ungodly. I went on to explain that the apostle Paul, when writing to Christians, said, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).

Paul’s statement is a promise to believers for revenge. In other words, Paul was encouraging his readers to be patient because the day will come when vengeance will be theirs and God’s. A time is coming where they will have the opportunity to make the one, Satan, (who is indirectly and ultimately responsible for all of the tragedies in life), pay under their feet.

So part of the desire to take revenge is godly, as long as it’s not misplaced and done in God’s timing. In the meantime, God calls us to conquer evil by “doing good” to those people who harm us (Romans 12:21). In other words, the Christian way is not to be overcome by evil by doing evil back to those who harm us, but to overcome and defeat evil by doing good.

Some may understand the idea of “doing good” as a call to become passive and pleasant, and to pretend nothing ever happened. But that’s not the case. Yes, sometimes “doing good” is blessing others with unexpected acts of kindness or civility. But doing good to those who hurt us also involves intentionally drawing strong lines and giving some serious consequences that force them to own and deal with their sinful and harmful choices. It often says to those who’ve hurt us, “While there is still some unfinished business for us to resolve before we can move forward, I’m not going to relate to you solely on the basis of the hurt you’ve caused me. The hurt is still there for me, but I’m going to relate to you on the basis of something more. As I wrestle with the hurt you’ve done to me, I want to relate to you in ways that can conquer evil in your life and prevent the evil of bitterness from overtaking mine.”

None of us are fully at this place. But as I suggested to the man whose son had been murdered, with the help of the One who was brutally beaten and murdered Himself, we can all move closer to the place where we can start to genuinely consider all that’s involved in “doing good” to those who have deeply hurt us.

Getting Even

Jeff Olson —  August 27, 2009 — 3 Comments

Fist-flickrI recently ran across a website about taking revenge. I was actually stunned to see how many on-line sites are dedicated to the goal of getting even. From “thepayback.com” to “makehimpay.net,” scores of people share stories and tips on how to even the score with those who rub them the wrong way.

These people apparently live by the motto, “I don’t get mad. I get even.”

Getting even reminds me of the Old Testament character Joseph. If there was ever someone who had the “right” and the chance to get even, it was this guy. After his jealous older brothers sold him into slavery and staged his death (Genesis 37), Joseph eventually landed in Egypt, where God worked in his life through a remarkable set of twists and turns. By the time he was only thirty years old, Pharaoh put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt (Genesis 41:41-43).

Joseph was a wise ruler. During the productive years he stored up huge quantities of food to prepare Egypt for the years of famine that were sure to come. During a severe famine, when Joseph’s brother’s traveled to Egypt to buy food, an opportunity for revenge presented itself. But rather than get even and let his brothers have it, he set them up to demonstrate a level of mercy that could only come from God (Genesis 44-45).

His willingness to show mercy grew out of an awareness that he was involved in something much larger than himself, even his own mistreatment (Genesis 45:5; 50:15-22).

I don’t know about you, but I can get so caught up in how others have hurt me that I lose sight of how God (even though He didn’t intend for it to happen) may be redeeming it for a greater good? This story invites and challenges me to be more open to see my pain with redemptive eyes than I typically do. —Jeff Olson