I'm mad at him because he had the nerve to call me out during in his sermon yesterday. Well, he didn't exactly call me out specificially. But rather, the Lord put a message on his heart that hit me squarely on the head. It's funny. Most of the time -- when my pastor's messages don't really apply to me (about bad relationships, raising children, hell raisers in the church, alchoholics, etc.) -- it's fun for me to look around the sanctuary to see people nudge each other with their elbows or get uneasy when a point about them or someone they know is raised. This time, though, the spotlight was shining directly on me. It was almost like the entire sanctuary was cleared out; leaving only me -- nakedly exposed.
His sermon was about revenge. He spoke to the congregation (more like, he spoke to ME) about how dangerous it is for Christians to get ensnared by the traps of revenge. It's interesting that he spoke on this topic because; now that I think about it; many of the pains and hurts I've experienced are directly linked to the revengeful acts that I, myself, have committed.
Though revenge is a dangerous tool, its not all that uncommon for people to use it; including Christians. It's an age-old ritual that we perform to 'right' the things that we think are wrong; to restore a sense of justice to situations that we consider unfair. "An eye for an eye", as the Old Testament puts it. And even though Jesus died to lift the eye for an eye curse, I think that we still hold the concept true to our hearts. "If you do something hurtful to me, then -- dammit -- I'm going do something hurtful to you" is what we say. Sadly, we think that the best way for us to get over the pains inflicted on us by someone is for us to return the favor.
Now, to be clear; revenge is not always as evil, vindictive, and diabolical as it's painted out to be. Not everybody slashes tires, destroys vehicles (see image above), or causes any other physical or property damage. But, some methods of revenge (like the ones I use); though not violent or aggressive, are equally as damaging. My revengeful tactics, for instance, have a certain subtly and craftiness to them. In most cases, I don't think that the people to whom I'm being retaliatory even know what I'm up to. When it comes to revenge, I'm a creative, cool, and calculated customer (how's that for alliteration?).
But, after hearing my pastor's sermon, I'm starting to realize that traps I set in the name of revenge can (and usually do) backfire on me. I realize now that a lot of the hurt I've been feeling is a product of the traps that I set for other people. Rather than finding justice and fairness from my revenge, my situations have actually gotten far worse because of it. When people have 'wronged' me and I respond out of vengeance, I'm not making the situation any better. As Ghandi best put it, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".
After my pastor had to indirectly put me on trial, I now understand that many of the pains that I deal with are of my own creating. That said, just as I create my pains, I also have the ability to destroy them.
I think that we, as Christians, can avoid falling into the traps that we set by not creating them in the first place. Sometimes, it's better (though not always so easy) to just let go of things. You're dumped by that girl/guy; move on. You lose that promotion to someone else; get over it. Instead of harboring on it (which then leads to us trying to exact our revenge), we should rely on God's grace and healing to help us through the situation(s) we face. God has promised to fight our battles for us if we allow Him to. We don't have to "get even" with people when we feel like we've been wronged. God has a way of evening the playing field for us; and it doesn't involve anybody getting hurt in the process. God's grace will beat out egging houses or keying cars any day.
So, my message/warning to you: If you feel like someone has done you wrong, go to God about it. Don't be so quick to pull out that shovel and start digging a ditch for that person. You might just fall in yourself...