I’ve got bad habit that I have no desire to break. ABC’s soapy concoction Revenge (Wednesdays @ 10 PM) hits way to many sweet spots. I mean who doesn’t like a show that casts one of the ultimate girl next door actresses in a generational vendetta settling mastermind role. Amy Abbott from Everwood all grown-up ninja. A one woman Karma squad.
Last week’s episode was even titled absolution with our anti-hero narrating that is the one thing her enemies will never get. The Revenge plot is a staple of entertainment, but at a gut level we all know that it is false – like the karma dream that drives it. We wish that people got what they deserved. We invent religions and philosophies about how the cosmic scales will balance. But, as fun as they might be, we know they are the equivalent of candy. A sweet spot in our fallen selves. Instead, the world as it is is not one governed by karma but by the cross and by grace. The cross is the judgment of this fallen world. The scales don’t balance. The innocent are tortured. The lamb bleeds. And the blood is offered free and clear. You don’t get what you deserve from this world. And you don’t get what you deserve from God. Cross and grace. The scales don’t balance. Revenge and Karma are fun on the TV, but we know they are false. And when the show is over, we can return to grace.
I’m a long time basketball fan, although I usually like the NCAA better than the NBA. But somewhere close is an image of LeBron James after the game 6 loss. The Miami Heat were put together with one idea in mind – glory. They were built to win. Yet they lost. LeBron’s face says it all. This was not supposed to happen.
It interests me that a guy often called ‘the chosen one’ who goes around as the new ‘King James’ doesn’t really get the karma he’s tempting. The chosen one may win in the end – the messiah sits enthroned – but it is after the cross. The story of the authorized King James is that God is most fully revealed in suffering. The hour of his glorification is when he is lifted up…on the cross.
We naturally equate losing with the loss of God’s favor. God smiles on us when we are winning. And that is almost exactly the opposite of the truth. Any athlete knows he’s on the right path when the coach is yelling at him the most fierce. There is that moment in Hoosiers when Gene Hackman is trying to explain why he punched that kid all those years ago. “He was the best I ever coached…” Paul tells us to “rejoice in our sufferings (Rom 5:3)” or “that he might share in his sufferings (Phil 3:10)”. But that is not how we act.
What do I brag about or publish? And upward trending attendance line. A successful Sunday School. A balanced church budget or at least close. Why? Because those things mean God is working, right?
Maybe. But the suffering might be closer to the glory. It might be more real. It might be the better preparation. Because suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope; and hope does not disappoint.
Did you ever have a time in your life where you had all the glory but felt nothing? or were completely defeated, but yet new that this was real?