it has been in the context of ‘being wronged’ that i have noticed it. and also brought up by an email i received the other day asking how we can be okay with the fact that God ordered genocide in the old testament [a really important question which i have grown up not asking – killing of many in the old testament was always seen as okay because it was ‘the goodies killing the baddies’ and i don’t think i ever stopped to think much at all about the fact that they were real people with families and dreams and so on…]
in terms of someone who i think has caused offence to me [often a dangerous sign – “offence is not given, it’s taken”], there is this inherent thing of violation of my rights [often a dangerous sign – the louder i get about proclaiming something that is seen as a right to me, the more i often need to look deeply within my heart, past my selfishness, pride and greed] and i NEED THIS PERSON TO PAY.
now what is unfortunate is that ‘this person’ is usually someone who is, or was, or should be, close to me [in the story, it is the guy’s brother] and the basic truth of the situation is that i am wanting them to suffer [because they did that thing that was unacceptable to me] and so with the story of the lost son, the father tries to focus on the heart of the story: ‘this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’ [verse 32]
the story is of a misguided son who gives in to temptation and greed and heads off and squanders his money and ends up with nothing and returns, absolutely broken, to try and get a job as a servant on his father’s farm… and the older son tries to make it all about himself. WHAT ABOUT ME?
and i’ve seen that in myself, and it is ugly, but while i am feeling offended or holding tightly to my rights, it becomes very easy to forget that this story also involves someone else, who is often broken and hurting and messed up and confused and when Jesus looks at them from the cross and gasps out, “Father, forgive them, for hey do not know what they are doing.” [Luke 23.34], i can hear myself wailing in the background, “No, wait a minute, what about me? I have been wronged. Is no one going to do anything? What about meeeeeeeee?”
romans 12 talks about us offering our bodies as living sacrifices which are holy and pleasing to God [ones which are screaming “he/she must pay!” may not fit so well into that category don’tchathink?] and goes on to say, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ [Romans 12.1-2] and so once again, we hear that in the kingdom Jesus came to speak about, everything is turnedon its head. What is ‘a right’, is freely given up. Offence is cast to the side.
what is brought to the fore is Love. Crazy, unbelievable, nonsensical, indescribable, ridiculous, make-a-mockery-out-of-offence, sacrificial, unmerited Love.
may that become my go to place. may i be identified more as the father in the story and less as the brother.