Updated: Jun 24
by Jon Reeverts
I thought I felt insulted... but not now.
A few weeks ago I underwent a mind-bending personal temper tantrum.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had one of those, but I occasionally have these, probably too often, mostly related to my reckless attention to news and social media.
I never used to have such a vehement opinion on things, but now I realize that that was when I was trying to build a marriage, raise a family, and make a living - oh yeah, and there was no social media. I didn’t own a cell phone, satellite tv was a novelty and cable was too expensive. Even the internet was in its birth pangs. Life was immediate, raw, local and frankly, though gritty and often painful, it was easier to tolerate and even enjoy. It was more about providing for those closest to me and less about performing for the world, seeking the approval of men (Galatians 1:10) and less about being swallowed up by every enterprise.
But today, in our “advanced society”, drug addiction, suicide, family meltdown, political unrest, crime, and moral compromise is worse than ever and more available than fast food. We seem to be killing ourselves on our daily diet of media caloric intake - overdosing on opinion and posts. We are becoming more numb to personal and family celebrations as we tap icon after icon meeting our daily quota of community outreach.
It was this push that led me to follow a thread of thinking that sparked the tirade.
And, so it was that someone essentially grouped me with others through an isolated illustration - apparently, I was an a-hole, since the other person in the illustration was. And my behavior (refusing to conform to COVID trends and demands) since it was similar, made me, I guess, an a-hole brotherhood.
I was irate. I was fuming. I was insulted. I seethed inside at the comparison. I was incensed at the logic. In silence, I let the temperature of my anger rise. In silence. I couldn’t even find a reasonable outlet to let off the steam. I even waited for anyone to bring up the topic, just so that the fuse could be ignited, so that I had an excuse for the powderkeg that awaited.
So, I did what any irate member of the audience would do; I wrote a response. I pounded out the delicious argument that cut to pieces the critic and his faulty logic. I poured over research - the real stuff - the scholarly papers - the renowned minds of the day. I added scripture upon scripture to my email. Two pages became four, then five, then ten and finally after including endnotes to my scathing criticism, I added the perfect title and subject line. I AM INSULTED!
Years ago I read a book entitled Lincoln on Leadership. In it, there was a passage that described President Lincoln’s fury with his Union generals that were slow to action, inconsistent at recognizing tactical advantage, and unresponsive to Lincoln’s demands for change and better results.
He wrote a scathing letter to his most prominent general - the poster child for ineptness.
However, it turned out that the general never received the letter - mostly because… Lincoln never sent it. It was found in Abraham Lincoln’s personal papers, after his assassination.
Revisiting that passage made me wonder if he had the advantage I had.
I have this amazing, wise, understanding, loving wife who knows my weaknesses - all of them! When I finally revealed the torrent of anger brewing deep inside me and let her read my thoughts, I thought she might pat me on the back and support me with, “Atta boy, you tell ‘em!”
Okay, I didn’t expect that.
First of all, I wasn’t sure she would have the patience to read all twelve pages and the included research; honestly, I kind of hoped she wouldn’t, so that I could just hit “Send” and obliterate my accuser.
She didn’t. She simply asked, “Do you want to know what I think?”
I hesitated. I pinched my lips together. I kinda grit my teeth. I don’t like it when she suggests revisions - there’s some kind of belief attached to that, I know. Like, “Do you know how much time I’ve already invested in stockpiling my anger and gathering my evidence and preparing my ‘well-chosen’ loaded words?” She does know.
“Okay,” I finally said, “What do you think?”
Here’s the key to what took place next - we both know, have studied and now teach the grace message. We both know the truth of what living the life of Jesus Christ looks like in almost every context. We even counsel others through such turmoil. We know the difficult path of returning to our fleshly mindset instead of resting in the power of the Holy Spirit. We know the determination of “Mr. Sin” to speak lies into our minds, and we both know to take thoughts captive. But, I think I forget more frequently than she does. Remember, I have a reckless abandon to listening to all the crap that hits the airwaves, and then examining everyone’s opinion on the wisdom of the day.
She simply said to me. “The title is not right. I’d change that.”
Hallelujah! “I can do that! Oh, this is gonna be good. Let ‘em have it honey! What would be better - more spiteful - more fitting,” my flesh rejoiced. (See Galatians 5 - The Message translation)
“Well,” she said, “It’s not accurate - as a believer and receiver of the Life of Jesus Christ - Him living in and through you, you can’t be insulted. He wasn’t and isn’t.”
“Ugh!” The Holy Spirit squeezed that great puff of anger right out of me - for a moment - that fleshly mindset (See Romans 8) was hit with a thousand pound bombshell. Then my spirit clasped my fallen shell, removed of anger, in His arms.
In truth and love, she had led me to dismiss the twelve pages. No argument, no resistance, no disappointment. She was right. I remembered that I gave up “My Rights” when I chose to receive the life of Christ. I could no longer be insulted. I was thankful for her speaking with such clarity and simplicity. She has a way of doing that. I love her for that and for a thousand other qualities. She is able to do that with her kids and even those she counsels. But, I am the greatest of these - she led me to the Exchanged Life message nearly 22 years ago - yet I am still learning.
I did respond to my accuser. In one page, I was graceful and clear in pointing out the pain in the message, but my desire remained in resting in the true identity that my Savior has given me, apart from the world.
A week later, America melted down again and continues to stir the pot of fury and retribution.
This time, I grit my teeth, took a breath and instead of sitting down at my computer to join the fray, I opened the Word of truth - I found myself in 2 Peter, chapter 1, verses 1-11. Peter spoke brief, powerful truth to me - I didn’t want to be blinded by sin, flesh or emotion. I wanted to rest in the truth of transformation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) He has changed us - and given us a gospel of reconciliation.
If you’ve been where I have been. If you have flung your arms out in resentment and in righteous anger. If you have taken to the warpath to grab your weapons and set yourself up to retaliate. If you too have brooded over your argument and impressing upon the opposition the “rightness” of your position. If you too have artfully crafted your words and subject lines and titles with a punch, may I urge you to pause… count to ten if need be, or count your blessings and then, finally, change the title. We who have received Christ have put Him on - we are not who we were - we can think and live differently as light and aroma and flavor.
2 Peter 1:1-11
Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.