This is a guest post by Lauren Weir.
He hurt my baby. In an effort to protect his beloved train from her intruding little fingers, the boy reached over and pushed my daughter headfirst into the pointed edge of another toy.
My heart raced with emotion as I swooped her up. Ache that she was unjustly hurt. Offended that he'd shove her over an inanimate object. Longing for a wall of protection. Frustrated that his sorry sounded more like repeated words than heartfelt remorse.
He was only two years old. Scenes like this are many in the world of children. And though maybe a bit more polished and professional, these interactions are not all that uncommon among the mommies of little ones, as well. The curse warrants none of us safe from even the smallest experiences of injustice.
Maybe you know the feeling. Maybe you work really hard, yet your efforts go unnoticed by those you care for.
Maybe your husband doesn’t help as much as he should. Maybe he’s more interested in his phone or his hobbies than his responsibility as a dad.
Maybe another kid treats your own with harshness, but the bullying goes uncorrected by his mom.
Maybe your children sling mean words that pierce you with the feeling of rejection as a mother.
Maybe another mom in your small group, or your mother-in-law, or your mom always offers you helpful suggestions on how to be a good mom, and you can never measure up to her standards.
Whether words and actions are simply inconsiderate or blatantly intentional, all of us know what it is to be wronged.
You might not respond to these and a thousand other examples with any more intense emotions than frustrated, hurt, angry, or sad. But one thing is for certain: all of us operate with a keen sense of injustice.
Created in God's image, we detect injustice acutely.
Injustice causes a gap. When a person wrongs us, intentionally or not, a breach in intimacy and connection occurs. Trust is severed. Security threatened.
Whether we discern the gap's existence or not, we sense innately that some act of justice must occur to overcome the divide.
But instead of entrusting ourselves to the only One who judges justly, we'd much rather take matters into our own hands. Before we know it, we move from defendant to Judge, and we take offense. We respond with anger, avoidance, and bitterness. Some lash out with words of correction or harm, while others silently take note never to allow ourselves to be hurt like this again.
We replay the offense, in either our minds or to another sympathetic ear, laying brick upon brick to fill the gap. Forging up bitter walls, high and hard, we become incapable of being entreated by the grace and mercy of our God.
Content to condemn another’s sin while ignoring our own, we function more like white-washed tombs than cross-bearers.
In our efforts to close the gap, we widen it. We have forgotten that only gospel of Jesus Christ carries the power to repair the breach.
On the night of his betrayal, Jesus asked that his disciples labor in prayer with him. Consumed with grief and desperate need of ministry, Jesus steps away to plead with his Father over the ache in his heart. He comes back to find his closest friends sleeping.
His response astounds me. At one of the most vulnerable hours in Jesus' life, he laid aside every right to make their actions about him. He cared chiefly about his Father’s will and his brothers’ hearts, so much so that his response to their insensitive slumber aimed to protect them from sin and separation from their God.
He refused to allow others' actions of neglect, inability, and perhaps self-centeredness be a cause for holding a grudge and taking offense.
No other man is more fully acquainted with scorn, rejection, and disdain. No one has borne more undeserved hate and bitter envy. No one knows more deeply than our Savior the belittling of his personhood, the devastation of all his relationships, the lowliness and the ache that marries with injustice.
And we weep when we get up close and see this horrifying truth, because we know, no one is more unworthy of the treatment.
When betrayed by his own friends, Jesus remained faithful in love, even to the point of death.
When rejected by his own creation, questioned, denied, turned away from, our Lord endured with sorrow in his heart and mercy in his response.
When misunderstood, misrepresented, mistreated, our Lord set off no rally for vindication, but silently entrusted himself to the Father.
God, the one offended, overcame the chasm and paved the pathway for our repentance with his grace and mercy. He’s the only one strong enough to bear the weight we feel when we taste injustice, and unless we see Christ’s holiness in the flesh and grow acquainted with his sufferings and his reproach, we'll always hinder the gospel from going forth when we take offense.
Absorbing the cost of sin, absorbing being misunderstood, mistreated, unconsidered, ignored, neglected–this is no small cross to bear. If we'll have any chance at seeing Christ and his grace exalted, we'll find ourselves in need not only of the gospel story, but of fellowship with the gospel's hero time and time again.
We lay down all our defenses because Jesus extends to us forgiveness undeserved. Forgiveness that cancels our record of debt, our guilty standing, our condemnation. His blood reconciles us to God, inviting us into his presence. Jesus welcomes us when our experience is one of pain, ridicule, or shame. He hears our helpless cries when we choose not to defend ourselves. He whispers to us the most tender and comforting expression of one who's been there: I know.
We forsake giving others the power to stake claim on our identity, and we hide ourselves in this Savior, rather than use our own futile measures to defend our worth and dignity and thus widen the gap. We keep not the offenses of others close to our heart, but “the offense of the Cross” that Paul refers to in the book of Galatians.
The “offense of the Cross” takes seriously our own sin that erected the tree on which our Savior hung. It offends our pride and strips us of glory, both of which crave justice outside of the gospel. The cross humbles us, telling us we had nothing but our sin to offer. Yet even still, it beckons us to freedom if we’ll come and die with our righteous Savior on that hallowed mount of injustice.
His righteousness for our surrender, an exchange that evokes worship. Worship that pulls us close to the cross, outside the camp, willing to bear the reproach he bore. We endure rejection, belittling, and insensitivity because our Savior became the suffering servant and traded his glory for our salvation. When others mistreat us, misunderstand us, and assume the worst of us, we humble ourselves, receive the ministry of Christ, and cover offenses with love and mercy. We learn to grieve, not primarily over another's sin against us, but against the one who ultimately poured out his perfect life to restore unity and fellowship with our God and each other through the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus Christ entered in and endured death to bridge the gap, and we must follow. The high calling of absorbing the cost of sin begs that we stay near to the only one who can bear such a weight. Injustice will abound until the day of his return, but until that day, the gospel we’ve been entrusted with contains the grace and forgiveness that empowers us to build bridges rather than walls.
Let us be peacemakers who bridge the gap.
Lauren Weir is a wife and mother with a heart that beats to communicate the goodness and glory of God. Her love for God's Word and discipleship led her to pursue a Master of Biblical Counseling degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is co-owner of Words Worth Noting, a ministry dedicated to providing resources and cultivating life through the beauty of Scripture. You can connect with her at wordsworthnoting.com and on instagram.