I’m no sociologist or anthropologist, but it’s easy to see that we live in a day and age where everyone pursues victimhood.
Those who have Republican leanings cry out as victims of a Democratic attempt to take over and destroy everything they hold dear.
Those who have Democratic leanings cry out as victims of an oppressive and tyrannical regime.
Obviously these are exaggerated to prove a point, that we are all prone to holding a victim mentality.
It is not just in politics. It happens in the sports world. Clemson football’s head coach spoke out about how the College Football Playoff Committee didn’t want them in it, how they were against them. In essence, how they were victims of an SEC-bias. You best believe that fired up his team.
It happens in even smaller things too.
This very morning at church I jokingly tried to present myself as the victim in my wife’s decision to not let us open Christmas presents a few days early.
Coming across as a victim has power in our day and age. People side with the victim.
Now, duh, there are very real victims of very real evil and wicked acts. Don’t get me wrong. But there are also innumerable moments where victimhood is claimed inappropriately and incorrectly.
I think it happens all of the time in the church.
We live in an age in the United States where Christians are crying out as victims just about daily. Petitions are floating around social media, boycotts are taking place, what isn’t persecution is decried as persecution. Everywhere I look, Christians are taking the role of the victim.
Toy Story 4 is liberal propaganda designed to subtly destroy the Christian view of sexuality.
Starbucks is persecuting Christians because they didn’t put Merry Christmas on their cups.
Netflix is persecuting Christians due to the abhorrent nature of some of their films and shows.
Our schools are persecuting Christians by removing certain Christian practices (prayer before sporting events, etc.).
These are all things I’ve seen (some less recent than others).
Is this inherently wrong?
Not necessarily. Although I would argue that most believers in countries that are actually physically persecuted for their faith would see our outcries of victimhood as interesting to say the least.
Is it forgetting some of the themes we see in Scripture?
You see, as followers of Jesus, in my opinion, we should never play the victim card. Meaning, we shouldn’t really be loud about the ways that we may or may not be ‘persecuted’.
It’s expected that we should be ostracized for our faith.
Look with me at what Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthian church.
When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we respond graciously. Even now, we are like the scum of the earth, like everyone’s garbage. – 1 Corinthians 4:12b-13
Honestly, and I guess weirdly, this is one of my favorite passages. Because it first reminds me that the entire story of Scripture says that we are never going to be popular for following God. What our country has experienced the last few decades is unique. It’s almost unheard of in Scripture. It certainly wasn’t normative.
Now, the church is finding itself headed back towards its rightful place. The bottom of society. Considered by at least some as scum and garbage.
Again, the ‘persecution’ I outlined above is not really persecution in the slightest. I personally have never gotten wrapped up in the fact that a non-Christian culture doesn’t put Christian values at the forefront of all that it does. Why would it? And why is the church so overly concerned with the fact that it doesn’t?
Look at what Paul said.
When they were reviled (I’ve never been hated for what I believe. At least not to my face. The closest thing to that is a lady who was cutting my hair giving me a half second weird look when I said I was a pastor), they BLESSED. They didn’t scream for their rights.
When they were persecuted (real, physical persecution), they ENDURED it. They didn’t put their hope in petitions to the government.
When they were slandered, they responded GRACIOUSLY, not enraged and ready to fire back.
When they were treated like SCUM OF THE EARTH AND GARBAGE, they accepted their role.
Church, it’s time we accept our role. Jesus was mocked, spat upon, beaten, tortured, and put on trial. He never once cried out as a victim. He never once petitioned the powers that be. He never once fired back in rage. He just went lower and lower unto death. It’s time that we become willing to ‘share in his sufferings’ (Philippians 3:10).
Does that mean we become a quiet partaker in unfair treatment? Maybe. Maybe that is what Jesus modeled for us.
When he was on trial and asked if he was king, he said this. And it’s fire.
“My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” – John 18:36
MY. KINGDOM. IS. NOT. OF. THIS. WORLD.
If it was, His servants would fight.
Since it isn’t, His servants will give their lives in love.
Church, let us love our community. Let us engage our culture. Let us seek to be the hands and feet of Christ. Let us give up our rights (just as Jesus did in Philippians 2:5-8). Let us be more concerned with whether or communities know that we love them than we are whether or not our communities value all that we value.
Let me end with this quote from Mike Cosper, one of my fave authors.
We don’t love our cities well by withdrawing and doing nothing. We also don’t love them well if we waste our lives with political arguments about who has victimized whom. No doubt there is a need for legal battles, a need to fight for religious liberty and freedom of expression. But just as important – perhaps far more important – there is a need for the faithful witness and faithful work of Christians in culture, putting themselves at risk for the sake of others and working in ways both great and small to make their cities more peaceful, flourishing places. – Mike Cosper
In His Name,