Because there are certain types who like to argue over everything, there is a current debate in the Twitterverse over the concept of Christ as a victim.
One celebrity preacher tweets, “Christ was not a victim” and then digs in his heels.
I generally don’t involve myself in the current stupidity on Twitter, but this one strikes close to home.
There is, first of all, a rather unfathomable disdain for “victims”. I have heard “victim mentality” thrown around and I still have no idea what people mean by that.
Are they talking about someone who continues to struggle with trauma after abuse or other criminal activity?
Are they talking about those without power finally getting a voice and speaking out against the wealthy and powerful who have plowed their backs for decades?
I really don’t know. But I know that when they talk about “victim mentality” they spit the word with contempt. This is unfathomable to me.
If anyone could explain to me the “victim mentality” and why it is deserving of contempt, I would be grateful. Is it the desire for justice that is so bothersome? Is it the need for help at times? Is it the lingering affects?
If someone was robbing my home and shot me in the foot, would walking with a limp the rest of my life be a “victim mentality”? Or would it just be my desire to see the one who shot me receive justice? If the one who shot me didn’t receive justice and that made me angry, would that be a “victim mentality?”
If loud bangs after that event cause my adrenaline to spike and me to instinctively seek cover, would that be a “victim mentality”?
If someone asks me where I got my limp and I answer, “Some jackass shot me in the foot” – would that be a “victim mentality”?
Seriously, I don’t get it. What causes such contempt for victims of crimes?
The problem, of course, with contempt for a victim of injustice is that you then have to explain Jesus Christ. Hence, “Jesus was not a victim.”
The justification for this rather inane statement is that Jesus was at no time out of control of the situation. No one took his life from him, he laid it down himself willingly as a sacrifice for sin.
You have no argument from me. That is orthodox theology. But that isn’t what “victim” means.
Victim simply means one who is on the receiving end of a crime or another injustice. It seems to me that in the rush to justify contempt for victims, the celebrity pastor has entered into the territory of gibberish.
Does he really mean to say that Jesus was not a victim of injustice, or a victim of a crime? Victim doesn’t actually mean “Powerless to stop it”.
Jesus is also true God and true man, which I am not. I do not have the ability to remain in control of every situation at all times. I, as a frail human being, am often the victim of crimes or injustices that I am powerless to stop. But the scripture also teaches that Jesus took the form of a servant and is therefore able to empathize with every trial that frail humans endure, except for sin (Heb. 4:15). Being powerless to prevent injustice is not a sin. As true man, it seems to me that he also took upon himself the powerlessness of frailty, in a way we cannot fathom. He was at once victim and victor, and we can’t fathom that any more than we can fathom how he who is life could suffer death.
If they mean by this that Jesus did not sin while he was suffering injustice and being murdered, I have no argument there either. But “victim” doesn’t mean “someone who sins while being victimized”. It simply means one who has suffered from injustice or other crimes.
This is pretty basic Christology. One of my concerns is how quickly evangelicalism jettisons the basics of the Christian faith in order to justify their world view. If the Trinity can become a social playground to battle feminism, then I suppose Christology is also fair game to these people. But they should at least know what is at stake.
If Jesus was not a victim, then we have no salvation.
“Why did he suffer under Pontius Pilate?
“That he, being innocent, might be condemned by the temporal judge, thereby delivering me from the just judgment of God, to which I was exposed.” Heidelberg Catechism #38
But it seems to me that this contempt for “victimhood” has a deeper cause.
There is a certain person who refuses to view themselves as a victim, even if they have suffered tremendous injustice. So it seems to me that defining terms might be more helpful than simply spouting sound bites.
So I would offer this:
Jesus is true God and true man. He was the victim of the greatest injustice ever perpetrated upon a human being. As true God he could have stopped it at any time. But instead, as our Mediator, he prayed, “Not my will, but thine be done.” His willingness to obey even on the cross does not change the fact that they took him with wicked hands and nailed him to a cross.
11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
There are many times when men and women are powerless to stop crimes against themselves. Those crimes strike at the heart of our personhood and cause tremendous damage in the soul.
Being powerless against crime does not make you a contemptable, filthy, damaged person. It makes you human in a cursed world. The blood of Abel’s victimhood cried out from the earth, and God heard it.
The severity of the crime against you will determine the level of damage against you. Sometimes you need help climbing out of the pit. Needing help does not make you a contemptable, filthy, damaged person. It makes you a human being.
Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. Our resurrection has not happened yet. Until then, we mourn. Until then, we cry out. We will be afraid, sad, discouraged, anxious, downhearted, fearful and longing for the marriage supper of the lamb. This is what it means to be human.
One more admonition, for those who have read thus far. The gospel is this: “While we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly.”
Modern evangelicalism, on the contrary, is about power and strength. Those with political power and wealth are admired. The only way to “take the country back for Jesus” is through power, money and strength. this is always what makes “Christendom” so contrary to Christianity. Every time the “city on the hill” has been tried, it has failed in an avalanche of oppression, power, money, prestige and politics. There have been no exception, because the kingdom of God is not of this earth.
Christ came for those without strength. He said, “Blessed are the poor.”
Therefore, Paul learned to count all of his earthly advantages as dung that he might know Christ and the power of his resurrection.
For this reason, the apostles endured persecution and injustice. They stopped it when they were able to, but most of the time they were not.
When Paul was beheaded, he was a victim. When Peter was crucified, he was a victim. When Bartholomew was roasted alive, he was a victim.
They were not contemptable and worthless because they did not have the power to stop it, and neither are you.
Evangelicalism today is a movement of strength and self-help. One who is needy is not welcome.
But needing help is not a moral failure. In fact, needing help is the only way that we can come to Christ at all.