Monday, 7 July 2014

Righteous Response or Manipulation?


In my post, Magic Words Syndrome, I wrote about a particular board member who does a lot of counselling and mediation work in churches. One of the questions he often asks when someone has an issue with another person's behaviour or attitude is, "What is your righteous response?"

In other words, "How do you think Jesus would want you to respond to what you have experienced?

Now this is not a bad question to ask. What would Jesus want us to do? What behaviour might he have modelled that he would want us to use as a guide? On the face of it, this was an entirely appropriate question to ask.

The trouble lies in the presupposition which lurks within this question - the assumption that Jesus would tell us to be 'nice' and then insist that we 'submit to authority'.

I wrote about one of those mediation sessions in my post, Jesus the Buddhist? That was the first time I had used the "A" word.

Abuse.

Finally, I was admitting (to myself and those involved) that I felt abused by the bullying, controlling behaviour of elder J and his wife.

But this was given no credence by those present. I was told that while this might be my reality the actual issue was, "What is your righteous response?"

Of course, the 'correct' answer was to forgive and forget. And stupidly, desperately, I played my part in the game. Did exactly what was expected of me.

Which meant that I just continued to be bullied and abused… until I longed for oblivion.

And there was nothing I could do about it because "everything had been dealt with" and I had "promised not to bring it up again".

But nothing had been dealt with! So I did bring it up again. Which proved how 'unforgiving' and 'bitter'  I was. And I was damned for 'going back on my promises'. And the abusive cycle just kept rolling...

So what was the righteous response I should have given?

Walk away.

Refuse to be manipulated.

Imitate Jesus.

There were plenty of times when the religious leaders of Jesus' day tried to manipulate and control him. They tried to trap him with his own words, they tried to force him to behave 'acceptably', they tried to bully and abuse him.

But he stood his ground and didn't play their games. He told them exactly what he thought of their behaviour. He refused to be manipulated. And he walked away.

That was his 'righteous response'.

I wish it had been mine.

It can be yours.

And that is why I am sharing my experience. In the fervent hope that someone reading this post might be encouraged and strengthened by what they read. And resist the manipulative teaching that too many religious leaders promote which says, in effect, that 'good christians' must submit to abuse.

I pray you see it for what it is and respond with the righteousness that Jesus displayed!



2 comments:

  1. Well, dear sister, being involved with organized religion is like beating your head against the wall, you accomplish nothing and it feels so good when you quit! Sooner or later you are going to have to learn like many of us have... that system you are thinking of as being "the church" ISN'T!!! We are in that final hour where it is sad of her, "Babylon the Great has fallen! She has become a home for demons. She is a prison for every unclean spirit, a prison for every unclean bird, and a prison for every unclean and hated beast... Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, so that you don't participate in her sins and suffer from her plagues. For her sins are piled as high as heaven, and God has remembered her crimes." (Revelation 18:2-5 ISV). Or as we read in Hebrews, "So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come." (Hebrews 13:12-14 RSVA).
    "The hireling flees, because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine... My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:13-27 KJ2000)

    May the Lord bless you as you listen to and obey HIS voice.

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    1. Yes, we walked away from the institution with great sadness, but have come to realise how broken the system really is. It can be lonely, but it is a great encouragement to know we are not alone! Thank you.

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