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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Contributing to the Brokenness


"All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
—Romans 3:12-14—


Last night, I watched a small portion of the video, "Making the Bus Monitor Cry." You can watch it here. My reaction to this incident progressed through three different stages: rage, sadness, then guilt.


Rage


Karen Klein is a bus monitor in Greece, New York. Monday, she was verbally attacked in a way that can only be described as evil. At one point, this widow and grandmother of eight was told that her entire family killed themselves because they didn't want to be around her. Her son committed suicide ten years ago. I snapped. I was so angry. How could people, even seventh grade children, be so cruel? I wanted justice.

Sadness


The next emotion that hit me was sadness. Ms. Klein's tears poured as she was publicly ridiculed, which only brought more humiliation. I just wanted to hug her. I wanted to pull her out of a world where she was forced to endure such heartless taunts. I wanted to warp back in time and stand in the gap for her. I wanted to shield her from the daggers that were relentlessly thrust into her soul.


Guilt
 

Finally, I saw the truth. My words have also served as salt for many wounds. When I was in high school, there was a younger student who had a terrible home life. His father beat him. His mother abandoned him. He was alone. I tortured him publicly. When everyone else exposed his deepest wounds, I joined in. Eventually, he began cutting himself. There was another student who was mentally disabled. He tried so hard to fit in. I made his life miserable. No list that I can make could contain the names of the countless people that I have hurt.

I lashed out toward others in order to medicate my own pain and insecurities. I wanted them to feel how I felt. I wanted to escape my own inner torment by inflicting it on others. I am guilty of the crimes that I condemned. Who am I to desire justice against Ms. Klein's torturers? Sure, they deserve it. But so do I. How can I burn with rage against anyone but myself?


Brokenness and Restoration


I am a broken image of what I was intended to be. I have contributed to the brokenness of the world around me. I have played my role in distancing the world from the God who created it. I am not okay. I deserve justice, but through the cross, God offers a grace that I will never comprehend. He was angry with me. He had, and still has, every right to be. I have spurned Him, hurt others, and played the self-righteous blame game. What was His response? He unleashed upon His own Son the fury that I had stirred up in Him. Every last drop of God's wrath toward me was poured out upon Jesus. I deserve condemnation, but received redemption.


The Blame Game is Lost at the Cross


The cross displays to me my own guilt. Not my parents'. Not my enemies'. Not my government's. Not cruel children's. Mine. At the cross, I see what I deserve. 

The cross displays God's grace toward me. I, personally, have been shown undeserved grace. Because of Christ's sacrifice, alone, I am counted as one of God's children. Counted as a son.

Because God has chosen not to count such a high mountain of guilt against me, how can I extend anything but grace to others, no matter the crime? My heart breaks for Ms. Klein because she was victimized. My heart breaks for the students who taunted her because they are no more guilty than I, and my guilt was paid for by Someone else. I pray that God rids me of my own self-righteousness so that I walk in constant realization that I have no righteousness of my own.

See also: Matthew 18:21-35