Monday, May 24, 2010

R12: Who has hurt you the most?

I was driving down I-25 to find housing in Boulder, Colorado, listening to my favorite radio station when the music stopped. I didn't have the patience to wait for a news break, so I switched stations. No music. Seek- still no music. It was then I decided that maybe I should be listening to what was going on. It was April 20, 1999, the day of the Columbine Shooting in Littleton where two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, killed 13 and injured 21 before taking their own lives. Eric and Dylan were social outcasts and popularized the "Trenchcoat Mafia", though they were not members themselves. I didn't know any of the victims personally, though many in my campus ministry were Columbine graduates.

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Matthew 5:21-22)

It's hard to read, but I recommend reviewing the account of the murders. There the hatred radiates from the details- the callousness of their attitudes, and their mocking indifference towards the lives of the other students. Maybe it was hard to read it because I just saw the season finale of Grey's Anatomy, which mirrors the events but in a different context. In both cases, fact and fiction, the shooters perceived themselves as victims of circumstance and failed to take responsibility for their actions, taking their lives without having to face any consequence.

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." (Hebrews 12:14-15)

Later that summer, I was spending time with a couple of my best friends from growing up, trying to rationalize the events at Columbine High School. I cannot understand the disregard towards the lives of others. Everything has been blamed from video games to the music they listened to to the movies they watched. The truth is, they had roots of bitterness so deep in their hearts it led to murder. As my friends and I were looking back, I made the flip comment, "if anyone at our school would've done something like that, it would've been me." I was the frequent target of ridicule, was a straight-A student, a band and drama geek, and even participated in just about every sport imaginable. I never really fit into any one crowd and for a while even surrounded myself with the "goth crowd" who wore black dusters, subscribed to martial arts magazines, and knew every line from Monty Python's Flying Circus. I was part of the trenchcoat mafia a half-decade before that term meant anything.

So why didn't I, nor any of my other outcast fans, ever stoop to the same level as Eric and Dylan? Personally, I never let the hate I felt towards others consume me. I never let the bitterness I felt take root. We all will be hurt by others. Parents, friends, even strangers. Things will not go the way we think they should and we have a choice of either letting our disappointment turn into a bitter seed that takes root in our hearts or to let it go. The bitter root can bear many different fruits, though none of them "good"- hatred and murder, walking away from long-held friendships, turning back from family and in some cases, even God. Or we can learn to supernaturally respond to evil and overcome the evil aimed at you.

Romans 12:14-21 gives us the tools to do this, but I want to start by emphasizing the last verse, "do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good." Think about how you have been hurt and by whom. Dig out the bitter root so that it can no longer grow. Ask God to help you overcome the evil that exists in every one of us. We all hurt, both the verb and the feeling. God knows this, He understands this. And he's given us the means to overcome.

Think: What person came to mind when asked, "who has hurt you the most?"
Reflect: What emotions followed when this person came to mind?
Understand: In what ways have you sought to resolve this wound in the past? What has been helpful, or not helpful?
Surrender: Ask God to help you be willing to follow His commands in Romans 12:14-21 concerning this person.
Take Action: Identify one trusted friend you can share this old wound with and ask them to walk with you. As you do this, you will learn how to bless your enemies and it will free your soul.
Motivation: Watch the fourteen-minute video message "How to Overcome the Evil Aimed at You" at r12 online [follow the r12 button to the right, go to the tab labeled "Supernaturally"] to get into greater depth on this passage.
Encourage Someone: Offer to listen to someone who has been deeply wounded. Gently introduce Romans 12:14-21 to them.

Today continues our "virtual small group" covering the book Living On The Edge. For how this group is going to work, read this entry. For an introduction with disclaimers, click here. For some numbers from Barna to motivate you to continue reading, go here. For the R12 videos, click the R12 button on the sidebar to the right. Finally, as we move forward through the book you can always catch up by clicking the R12 label at the end of each post.

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