Unleashing on Jesus
My mind is continuing my ongoing intense conversation with Jesus this morning. I am still seeking to know the next phase of my journey to real freedom.
I reviewed yesterday's idea of Jesus identifying Himself with my enemies thereby placing Himself directly in the line of fire of my own anger and hatred against them. Of course that puts me in an immediate quandary for He is now saying that if I have something ugly to say or if I have even a secret desire to retaliate or commit violence as an act of revenge against someone, that He expects me to take it out on Him as their substitute. Yet that violates my own intense sense of justice, the very sense of fairness that was violated when they abused me.
I go back and review the passage that He has been using with me throughout this current session.
And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'
Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' (Matthew 25:40, 45 NRSV)
I noticed that these verses lay out clearly the two kinds of abuse that cause so much damage in our lives. And even though Jesus speaks about positive actions and negligence here, that does not preclude the underlying principles involved. Both good and evil come in two methods – active and passive. Some psychologists label these negative experiences in our life as A trauma and B trauma.
Abuse or trauma can be inflicted in two distinct ways. One way is more obvious, the physical abuse, molestation, torture, harassment, verbal attacks, insults, shaming, berating, violence of any sort or anything along these lines. This is the kind of abuse that most people recoil in horror from, get indignant about, pass laws to prevent etc. This kind of abuse is much easier to spot though it is often very hard to stop. This is what is referred to as B type trauma.
But there is another kind of abuse that is in some respects even more damaging but is far easier to hide. It is the more socially acceptable way of inflicting trauma on people and is even institutionalized right into our legal system. It is the passive abuse that robs a person of the things which they need for thriving. It is the withholding of the good things that God designed for us to need and desire. It can actually be far more damaging because its effects are so subtle yet long-term. This kind of abuse leaves a person empty, stunted for life, inadequate to meet circumstances with the right emotional equipment, feeling bewildered because of their ignorance about why they feel so empty and dysfunctional.
This latter abuse leads to all sorts of symptoms that are very difficult to resolve, things like depression, low self-worth, desires for suicide, addictions and a multitude of other serious problems. Yet the links to the root causes of these symptoms is seldom real clear so that perpetrators of this kind of abuse are seldom recognized and it is much easier to continue without accountability.
When Jesus spoke to the first group and praised them for the good things they had done and revealed to them that in fact they had done all these good deeds directly to Him, He was talking about the opposite of the neglect that He then listed as committed by the second group. This first group unconsciously were fulfilling the work of God for others by not inflicting the A type trauma on them but were active in doing everything they could to address the needs of those who were already victims of A trauma.
On the other hand, Jesus speaks to the lack of action on the part of the lost, the A type trauma that they had actually inflicted on those in need of their help and their comfort. This whole parable was Jesus' way of highlighting the existence of A trauma and how heaven views it and the accountability that all of us have in this area. It does not talk directly about B trauma in this parable, but of course that is addressed plentifully all throughout the rest of the Bible. Those are the more open, active, aggressive sins that we commit against each other. The problem is that both of these are usually very present in our lives and all of us have been victims of both types of these sins.
Conversely, we can take the same A/B principle and apply it to the positive side as well. Maybe to follow the same pattern we might call them A blessings and B blessings. A blessings would be the absence of the hurtful things that we might say or do to each other and B blessings would be the active things we do to help and bless and care for each other. I have never heard it put in those terms before but the principles obviously apply to both sides of the equation.
Given that context of underlying principles that apply to both good and evil, it makes more sense what Jesus is trying to tell me. In this parable He only speaks of the B blessings that the first group had done for others and the A trauma that the second group had passively committed against those who needed their help. But just because He didn't mention the other two categories does not mean that they are not just as real. This has opened up a whole new and strange area of thought for me that raises a lot of questions in my mind.
A scenario ran through my mind this morning of letting myself actually do what I think I hear Jesus inviting me to do. I say I think I hear that because another part of me strongly objects to such an idea calling it blasphemy, heresy or maybe even pop psychology. But is that really true or is it my flesh once again trying to derail me from the straight path of truth as God is opening it up to my mind? I want to be careful but at the same time I need to be willing to surrender my opinions and feelings and past presumptions tainted by confused ideas that fill the world. I want to know the real truth, both about God and about the ways that He is revealing that are consistent with the principles of His kingdom and even designed right into our psyche.
If I were to allow myself to somehow unleash all the wrath that I have been becoming aware of deep inside right onto God directly, what precedent do I have from the life of Jesus that this is in fact the right thing to do? Is this just a crazy notion or is it a dangerous diversion that might lead me off onto a strange path that would take me away from God? I don't have a clear answer for that yet. But if Jesus is really the one impressing me to move in this direction it would also be very dangerous for me to resist that invitation. That too could prove dangerous for me, leaving me stuck in the rut that I already find myself buried in and wanting to escape.
As I reviewed in my mind the various stories of people in Jesus' life, I could not think of any instance in which He invited someone to take out their anger on Him directly as the means of liberating their hearts. This raised a serious question in my mind as to the validity of this whole idea until another thought entered into the mix. What about the events surrounding the trial and execution of Jesus? What about all of those people? Wasn't the death of Jesus the major event that became the catalyst that broke through into the consciences of thousands of people that were later converted at Pentecost? Wasn't that the ultimate demonstration of the very principle that I am looking at here?
At first my mind recoiled from that option. Why would I want to identify myself with the people who crucified Jesus in their hatred of Him? But the thought will not leave. Isn't that exactly what Christians teach anyway? We tell each other all the time that it was our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross, yet when it comes down to practical and personal application of this principle in the way I am pondering we are tempted to recoil with horror or at least disapproval. But why shouldn't we direct our sinful hatred, resentment, bitterness or whatever directly at Jesus? If that is the path to perceiving reality more correctly and finding the door to our freedom, maybe that is the valid path to pursue.
Another question comes in to be addressed. What if a person has a very dark view of God as an angry, retaliatory being who will get very upset if we say anything bad about Him or get angry at Him? Wouldn't that picture of God seriously get in the way of carrying out a practice like this and receiving healing through it?
But then I look again at the people around the cross and the thousands of people caught up in the rabid mob excitement clamoring for His crucifixion. What was their picture of God like? Wasn't it the very same skewed, distorted concept that Satan has implanted into all of our hearts? They were only acting out the spirit that Satan has placed in all of us that is reflective of his own bitterness and hatred of God. It seems the greatest problem we have is that we live in constant denial that we even have these feelings and lies buried deeply inside of us. But they are there by virtue of simply being born in a sinful world and have been reinforced and deepened by years of abuse and lies about God accumulated on top of that. Until we get real about what is inside it is very difficult to make much progress into living in the truth and thriving in joy.
The events around the crucifixion of Jesus was a time of judgment in the sense that it exposed into public view what was buried deep in the hearts of everyone involved. All sorts of things were exposed that day: cowardice, hatred, fear, unbelief, lust, pride, every evil that can be named came to the surface and culminated in the way that Jesus was treated. But even more importantly how did Jesus relate to every instance of both A and B trauma that was imposed on Him there? He continued to act like Himself without a single moment of wavering. He did not react even in a thought in any way reflective of the spirit that compelled those who were abusing Him, but instead He revealed more explicitly than has ever been seen the real truth about the heart of God.
Apparently it is necessary to openly contrast the true character of sin with the real truth about how God feels about us and His character in order for us to have a breakthrough and see the saving truth about God that we so desperately need. If that takes unloading my pain and anger against others directly on Jesus for myself, it seems consistent with how God related to those who physically participated with those events in Jesus' life back then. God has proven that He is big enough to handle anything we can throw at Him and compassionate enough to accept that abuse and keep loving and forgiving us right through that process. Any other teaching along this line becomes suspect if it involves fear that God might get angry or upset if we do something to hurt Him.
I have been intently searching for years to know the real issues and messages in the story of the cross of Jesus. I have been very disillusioned with most of the religious jargon and theories about this story mainly because most of them are based on and reinforce false views of what God is like and how He relates to sinners. This current set of ideas is adding new dimensions to my growing appreciation of what really happened at Calvary and how that may affect the way I relate to Jesus right here in my day. It is not real clear yet but there seem to be more pieces coming together to enhance the true picture of God's heart as revealed in Jesus.