This has been quite a year so far in the area of conflict and resolution, and even irreconcilable differences. On so many different fronts, wars of words have been waged in the name of self. I understand we’re humans created with emotions and feelings, ones that can be bruised easily. We’ve all been on the receiving end of barbed comments, misplaced aggression, and misdirected hostility…and probably dished it out too.
But as Christ followers, we have not only a challenge but a command to rise above earthly squabbles. That’s not minimizing anyone’s battle wounds or those who have been the victims of abuse. However, I do know that God’s Grace can supersede any emotional bondage and acrimonious situation. How do we respond when we’re falsely accused, slandered or treated unfairly?
Here’s another question…and we’re not going to like it. How did Christ respond when He endured the same? “They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing” (1 Peter 2:23-24).
Psalm 22 is a Messianic passage allowing us to peer into Christ’s mind for a moment. We hear his anguish, abandonment, torment, and humiliation. “But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all” (v. 6).
Now we know that the serpent represents Lucifer, the proud fallen angelic worship leader who was cast from God’s Presence because he wanted to be the one worshipped. How would we characterize a serpent? Slimy, slithering, sneaky, predatory, defensive, poisonous, combative, self-seeking, looking for victims to preserve himself.
On the contrary, Jesus chose to illustrate His nature with a worm. They are hidden, ignored, overlooked, devalued and underestimated. Think of a rainy Spring day when the worms rise to the surface. Nobody cares that they’re all over the sidewalk, out of their comfort zone. They get stepped on, squashed, abused, and walked all over; yet they don’t react or try to retaliate.
The worms I’m familiar with are earthworms or annelida (segmented worms).
- These odd creatures have a unique characteristic in that: if they’re cut at any point, they don’t die. Each section has everything it needs to live and simply grows back. They actually regenerate or produce new life.
- They also tunnel through the soil, aerating it and allowing irrigation to take place. This process breaks up the hardened ground, making growth possible.
- Oddly, they feed on organic materials, soil and tiny pebbles. After digesting them, they excrete casts which are rich in nutrients. Essentially, they bring out the best in the soil and increase its value.
Why do I mention dying? Jesus uses this metaphor quite a bit when dealing with our flesh (Matthew 16:24-25; John 12:24). Death was not only for Christ on the Cross, but for us who desire to follow Him. “Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good – crucified” (Galatians 5:24).
- We die to being justified.
- We die to being understood.
- We die to being compensated.
- We die to being vindicated.
- We die to being defended.
- We die to injury and unforgiveness.
- We die to blame.
- We die to being right.
- We die to SELF.
- In addition: we’re the first to forgive, first to apologize, first to initiate reconciliation and if possible, restoration.
Easier read than done? Of course. We don’t want to. Our flesh wants to win and to punish the other person. It’s not easy. That’s why we have to die. If we want to follow Him, we need to deny ourselves and pick up our crosses daily. It’s not about getting or demanding our way. It’s about stepping aside, yielding, and allowing God to have His way.
“Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death – and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever…” (Philippians 2:3-9).
Questions for thought…
- What attitudes do I need to die to?
- What relationships can be mended if I would simply die to my demands?
- How would Christ treat me if I was the offender and He was the offended?