Anyone who has spent time with children has heard this cry, “NO FAIR!!!”
Anyone who visits social media hears it often from adults. Sometimes when reading about injustice toward children and other vulnerable people, my outrage mode becomes so overheated I have to shut it down and walk away before I open the door to something nasty that is glad to feed on my anger and unforgiveness and takes the opportunity to cultivate more.
When I am the victim of injustice myself and feel misunderstood, mistreated, and rejected I do not do well in the self-defense department. My rage usually turns into embarrassing crying. Crying when attempting to confront, with calm assertiveness, someone who has treated me unfairly infuriates me even more. I look like a weak, hysterical, blithering idiot and end up running away. (Now there’s a accusing voice popping up from my past.)
Worse yet is when I strike back with cutting words or, in one case, with a one-fingered gesture in the face of an entitled person in the middle of ridiculous road rage meltdown. (I shocked myself.) I had the opportunity to test the acceleration ability on my car that day.
Luke tells the story of how Philip explained a passage from Isaiah’s scroll to the Ethiopian eunuch. It describes Jesus.
He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
he was led away.
(Isaiah 53:7, 8a NLT)
The amount of courage it must have taken for Jesus to resist defending himself when he had so many powerful tools available is hard for me to comprehend. Only a love stronger than the drive to preserve one’s dignity and one’s life can account for such silence. This was not angry passive/aggressiveness nor self-punishing passivity. Jesus demonstrated physical and moral courage many times in his confrontations with authority figures who blocked the path to God with man-made traditions and religiosity. He was very capable of standing up to injustice. He cornered hypocritical religious authorities with his words. He took time to make a whip before turning over opportunistic scammers’ tables at the temple. His action in that circumstance was not because he suddenly lost his temper. Taking the time to make a whip showed he intentionally engaged in a dramatic act that opposed injustice.
Before the time when he was betrayed, mocked, whipped, and nailed to a public torture device he said this: “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” (John 10:18 NLT)
I see him looking, without shame, directly into the eyes of those who thought they were protecting their power base, facing the faces in the mob who called out for his death, gazing into my own eyes as I worry about what people will think, and saying with his compassionate silence, “This is my body, broken for you. This is my blood, poured out for you. For you.”
Creative Meditations for Lent, Word prompt: Courage