How do you respond when someone spreads rumours about you, gossips, lies, pretends to be your friend while really all they are doing is using and abusing you?
Perhaps they influence other friends to their side of the story. You are having rotten tomatoes thrown at you from people you don’t even know.
You feel at the bottom of the pile. Alone, rejected, abandoned and lost.
How do you respond?
Do you want to lash out? Take revenge, spread gossip yourself, reject them? Quietly think up schemes and plans to balance the fairness equation.
Simple words like ‘love’ and ‘forgive’ are too easily said. What you want is ‘how’. How do I demonstrate love and forgiveness?
W.D.J.T. & W.D.J.F. always preceded W.D.J.D.
‘What Did Jesus Think’ and ‘What Did Jesus Feel’ always preceded the behavioural response of ‘What Did Jesus Do’.
I like to ponder over the Jesus stories and what he must have felt and thought in the situations he faced.
So in the last days before the cross, I wonder if Jesus felt many of the feelings I have listed above. Alone, rejected, abandoned and lost.
How did he feel when all his friends abandoned him? What did he think?
One of his closet friends, Peter, denied even knowing him.
We don’t have a complete record of all the events post-resurrection and how Jesus, in his glorified state, related to his flaky fallible (aren’t we all) human friends.
There is one story that stands out though. It is the story of how Jesus connected with Peter. The guy that denied ever knowing him.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him,“Follow me!” John 21:15-19
Here, in this simple little breakfast conversation, Jesus demonstrates how he responds to one who has hurt him deeply.
He looks beyond the injury, to the compelling vision he has for Peter.
He focuses not on what Peter has done, but rather on what he sees Peter is to become.
He sees Peter as someone who is to ‘feed his sheep’. Peter is to be a leader of the early church. This is Jesus’ plan and desire for Peter.
Jesus says in essence to Peter’s fragile human heart.
‘I am not going to let the past hurt obstruct the compelling vision I have for you. You have made your mistakes and they hurt, bad, but like a loving Father welcoming home a prodigal Son I have something even better in mind for you, and that is what I ponder and dream on.’
He also tells Peter that it is not all going to be smooth sailing, that he will also experience a death similar to his own.
How does all this translate into our own experience? How do we love those who gossip or malign us?
We pray asking God to help us to see them the way he sees them. We pray asking for a compelling vision for them. A vision of them being fully alive in Christ.
The glory of God is man fully alive. Saint Irenaeus
What would they be like, fully alive in Christ? A vision that compels you to pray for them, and yourself.
Need Spirit (Holy) to help you with this?
Why do we stab each other in the back? How do we stop? Leave a comment below.
Image by antwerpenR Creative Commons Flickr