Vengeance Might Not Be What We Think
November 27, 2016
This is the continuation of a series of Podcasts started in Episode #518.
(John) Nee says, “The goodness of God leads to repentance,” and I have to confess that I often don’t believe that; not only with others, but also with me. I can more readily believe in His kind of angry, furrowed brow look at me in response to something that I don’t like or think that’s off or that I’m repenting for, rather than His goodness and love. And how tragic that is! That it’s like kind of… I hate even saying this, but it’s kind of a one-talent servant kind of believing He’s a cruel taskmaster, rather than believing in His goodness. It’s repugnant. It’s really repugnant since God is love. He is the literal definition of love. No love comes out without Him. And here I’m believing for others and for myself the same exact thing, that the retribution is in His wrath, rather than His love in His goodness, in His, you know… It’s just, it’s repugnant. It’s a repugnant response. And I hate that I have it, and I confess it, because it’s just, it’s gross. I would prefer to always lean towards believing in His goodness, that He, no matter how it looked or felt, that it was always – and I know this is the way it is in my head – that it’s not only bathed but sourced in His love. And how I would respond to others differently, how I would respond… Cause, you know, when you first become a Christian, you think that He’s literally going to, you know, core out half of your enemies, you know? You’re just ready for the ground to open up and swallow them, and you’ll stand there applauding God for His wonderful job of getting rid of such a problem. But then you realize more and more as you walk with Him that that’s really not how He does it at all. It’s the extreme that He does the “Korah.” Not that we don’t bear the repercussions of our sin and not that there’s not consequences for doing things, but He is such an amazing, loving God. I want to see Him in that love, rather than in… So, I really thank you for bringing that up. That’s an amazing thing, Jennifer, that you’ve shared.
(Carole) I guess one of my life verses is Jeremiah 31. The first couple of verses where it says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, and I have drawn you with cords of kindness.” But those cords have been very varied. And I can remember one time coming to Martha, and I had seen myself in a, oh, a huge, huge sin. And I was terrified, because it was really, really bad. And I had to come, I knew I had to come and confess it immediately. And I expected… I don’t know what I expected. I was terrified. I expected extreme judgment, which I deserved. But when I confessed it, she said… There was a period of time that went by, and she came back to me and she said, “I knew He would do this,” meaning, “I knew He would pour out His love.” And what was, what was terrifying, a terrifying way to see me… He was not shocked by what I did. I didn’t think He wasn’t shocked. I thought He would be terribly shocked, because I was shocked. But I was coming into a place of seeing myself. But He was drawing me, and He captured me by that humility and love. The reward of that was seeing Him in a brand new light, in the light of a loving Father, that doesn’t just take you up and whip you because you’ve done something that’s really wrong. But the cords of kindness that He has drawn me with have been cords of discipline, cords of the cross. The cross probably has been… That’s what the cross has been. It has been cords of kindness, and it has been bringing me to a place where I surrender and let Him have His way. And I’m in a cross right now. And there’s no instant – I don’t want to say instant solution. The solution is surrender, and that’s where I am is in the throws of really surrendering and accepting where I am and where He has me without any opinion about where that is, and laying down even those opinions about where I am. But they’re cords of kindness. Every one of these crosses are cords of kindness and draw me closer and closer to Him. And Jennifer, I have never heard, I have never considered that those cords of kindness are even revenge. And they are. It’s just an amazing perspective, piercing perspective to look at it that way, and receive the love of God and be able to give that love to other people. May He do that in and through me, “Please, Lord.”
(Jennifer) One of the examples scripturally that the Lord took me to in this cross when He was kind of exploding this new way of seeing His vengeance was to the Apostle Paul. And, you know, there are few people before I was saved that in the Bible I would read it and I’d be like, “Well, of course You did,” you know. “And of course they’re fine. Of course You love them,” you know, “These horrible, horrible maggots.” And Paul was one that pricked me. I was like, “Ok, so here’s Stephen, Your disciple, and You love him so much, and who’s holding the coats for the people that murdered him? Oh, yeah, that’s Your buddy, Paul. And then later he writes basically half the Bible. Of course,” you know. And that is the unsaved, that is the earthly eyes. And it was, you know… So, I’m sorry. I know that’s a little bald, but the truth, that’s who I was. That’s how I viewed it. Some people, when they say they really hated God, they’re using it a little hyperbolically. I never do. I just don’t. So, forgive me. I hope that there aren’t too many people who are offended by that. But that is truthfully what was in my mind and heart about the Lord. So, He takes me to the Apostle Paul as a picture. And all of a sudden I can see Paul, and I can see his reputation in the community. I can see his standing amongst the who’s who of Jerusalem. I can see his ambition for who he wants to be. And is there a more complete vengeance on Saul than what happened? Than his utter redemption? Is there a more complete… He, not only was he wiped off the map in terms of what he’d done, every step he took forward from that point on. He had changed his name. He was now a sledgehammer aimed at the very center of his previous power. It was vengeance not just on him. It was vengeance on those he rode with, of the temple that he preached at. It was complete. And the Paul that was, was not only annihilated in obvious ways in terms of who he now was, that he was now Paul, the Christian, the follower of Jesus Christ. He was annihilated by himself every time he got up to speak. He did not go back to that well of who he was. He refused to go back to Paul, the smooth speaker, to Paul, the guy who had it going on, who knew what to say and when to say it. He would not go back to that well. He purposely said, “If You don’t give it to me, then I’m going to stand up here, and I’m going to bumble, and I’m going to stutter, and I’m going to tremble, and I’m probably going to look like a fool to these people, because I can’t speak unless You give me something to say.” I mean, and I had never looked at his life before like that, that he… Talk about, “Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord. I will repay.” My goodness…
(Martha) I’m thinking about the vengeance is that there was no greater way to see what he had really done than to be smitten by God. There’s no greater way for him to be held accountable, to be accountable and to understand to the ultimate what he had done. I never saw that before, Jennifer.
(Jennifer) I didn’t see it till you just said it. I didn’t even see that part. There was no greater vengeance on Paul himself, on his own heart than to be so stricken, and to have his eyes so opened too, even as he was blinded, which is kind of ironic.
(Martha) Well, it always amazed me about Paul is that he didn’t focus on it. He didn’t forget who he was, but he left it. He died to that man. That man perished out from under him as you were saying. I’ve always wondered how at that level of grace, but that means he really repented.
(Jennifer) And that means he really saw.
(Jennifer) And, but I— See, you’ve just opened up something completely new. I thought that I had just had the Paul doors blown off, but there’s always more doors to blow off. That is amazing.
(Martha) You blew open my mind too, Jennifer. I’ve seen it work in situations, but I’ve never viewed it as a principle why you are to love your enemies. And there is no greater vengeance than love, because the shame would be excruciating. The regret would be… and love would make it possible to repent to that degree. Oh, it’s just amazing, thank you.