We typically star in our own life narratives. Conclude Part 1 of Jesus the Forgiving Victim by imagining yourself as a bit player inside someone else’s story. In this story, the protagonist is the presence of the risen and Forgiving Victim. What might your part in the story be?
If the protagonist is a victim who forgives, then it would appear that that makes me a victimizer who is being forgiven. That is not an easy part to play.
I think there is kind of martyrdom saga that is used as mortar to repair cracks of what passes as theology in my churchy circles. The saga goes like this: Following Christ ain’t easy. It means suffering, and no one will recognize the profundity of your suffering except for Christ—for he knows it all too well, better than anyone.
Like any truly disastrous telling of the truth, this saga doesn’t leave the truth out altogether—it just gives a piece of it. Christ does indeed know suffering; and, certainly, as we follow Christ, we too shall know more about suffering. However, whoever said that Christ only introduces us to sufferings we must endure? Might he also introduce us to the suffering we’ve inflicted? This latter knowledge is one which, in some respects, is even more difficult to learn.
It gets more difficult yet. We can’t know ourselves as mere victimizers and know ourselves through the eyes of the Forgiving Victim. We must know ourselves as forgiven, too. Do you suppose there is a sequence to these two aspect of our character in relation to our protagonist? Is it a knowledge of our victimizing that clears the way to a knowledge of forgiveness? Or does the knowledge of our forgiveness open our eyes to our victim-making past?
As a matter of personal experience, I say its the latter. I think I’m someone who is being forgiven by members of his church. I like to set myself over and against fellow church-goers in various ways. One way is by making snide quips about their theology [see how I started this post]. Nevertheless, they wait patiently through all my condescension and behold me as one of their own. I’ve never ever doubted that I belong in their number, and that is because of how they persistently regard me so affectionately. I didn’t have to know how jerky I can be to know how much they love me; I’m learning how much they love me and it results in revealing (among other things) some of my jerkiness.