The Offense Found in the Defense

Yesterday after church, I was in a small group discussion where we were talking about grace, and what it means to us. There was a statement made by one of the members that I have not been able to get out of my mind:

Christ died for me with absolutely no guarantee that I would return that love.

Today though, an additional part of the sentence was added on in my head:

Christ died for me with absolutely no guarantee that I would return that love so that I would never have to defend myself.

At first this sounds a little weird, even to me, seeing it in writing. It’s sort of like…out of all of the things you would put after that sentence, that’s what you chose?

It’s been on my mind off and on lately largely because of what I wrote about in my last blog post. My overall theme in that one was how draining it was for me to read or witness people arguing back and forth, particularly when it was pretty below the belt, and how with maybe a rare exception (? I didn’t see it at least.) no one’s mind changed. It just seemed to generally tick people off.

I had one of those moments today though where something just kind of clicked. I had thought about it before, but something happened where it just really hit home. I was chaperoning a bunch of middle schoolers on a field trip, and basically half of it, shockingly enough, was them all at each others throats, especially the girls. There was one particular moment where a girl hurled some insults and language at another girl, and she began to get so defensive that her threats and actions were becoming more of a problem than the instigator. Now, I have seen this happen hundreds of times with all ages of people, not just teenagers, but this particular time that I was actually the one helping break it up put a few things in perspective. Most of you can probably relate to this, particularly if you deal with kids. You know about that exasperated feeling that you get that basically boils down to saying to one of them “Stop it. You calm down and let me deal with this. I have authority here. Stop yelling and getting angry, or else you are going to get in just as much trouble.”

Christ died for me, with no guarantee of even my acknowledgement of that, so that I do not have to argue and defend anything to another person. The authority figure has spoken, He has defended me, and His opinion of my worth is the only one that matters. No matter what it is that you may be under attack for, whether it’s as small and insignificant as hair color or as large as your family or faith, there is always going to be someone who not only disapproves but has absolutely no problem with blasting their opinion without any regards for the consequences. But Christ’s love for you means that you don’t have to defend yourself or explain your point of view even a little, tiny bit. It’s so fascinating to me some of the criticism that the most influential people received. Based on different sources, here a just a few…

Billy Graham faced criticism from Christians of all races for holding integrated crusades during the 1950’s and inviting Martin Luther King Jr. to speak there.

In turn he, as is commonly known, was criticized by many African Americans as not being violent enough with the Civil Rights Movement.

Barbara Streisand’s mother told her that she wasn’t pretty or vocally talented enough to become famous.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor, was berated and ultimately killed for his statements and work to fight against Nazism, meanwhile refusing to leave Germany so that he could help as many Jews as possible escape to Switzerland.

Mother Teresa’s humanitarian efforts were criticized as being fraudulent and hypocritical, even after she died.

And what is even more unbelievable, sometimes people think that Duke’s basketball team is better than UNC’s, and then make up false criticism about a blindingly beautiful student body.

The greatest of all these however is of course Christ himself. He spent his life being mocked, ridiculed, and criticized by extremely religious people for telling people that they did not have to be good or perfect to get to heaven. In his last day of life he could have easily defended himself in a second even one time by performing a miracle or making a huge speech that put everyone in their place…but he didn’t. He just let everyone heap insults on him. He was criticized as weak, a liar, a fraud, a coward. And yet these were the people who he was suffering for, dying for, and he never stopped loving them.

Many times I look at situations and just can’t help but compare how much he endured to whatever minor thing I am frustrated or perplexed with.

You don’t have to defend your talents or what you feel like God is leading you to do. When you put any person, no matter how natural of a leader they are, on a pedestal, they are going to disappoint you. You make it a lot easier on yourself when you just do what you believe and let God handle the rest. Every second that you drain your energy arguing with someone or defending yourself to them is a second that you could be helping someone who actually wants it or developing a deeper relationship with someone you already know. This is something I am trying hard to remember during a particularly trying time. And just to end with one of my favorite quotes, “You have nothing to prove and only One to please.”

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