Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Oh, no, you didn't!"

Are you familiar with this phrase?

It's an expression of shock or anger at something provocative that another person has just done; something, in fact, that is about to meet an equally forceful response from the person saying, "Oh, no, you didn't!"

This TV commercial for a new video game is a great example of how this expression is used today:

The main character in this video game is a mercenary who was denied the money he was owed by whoever hired him, and so now, it's on.

(Well, there's another one. If you're not familiar with "on", it's pronounced somewhere between "own" and "awn", and it basically means the fight has started.)

I seriously doubt I'll never play Mercenaries 2, because in the world of video games, I never graduated beyond the Atari 2600. I couldn't even tell you what machine you have to have to play this game. But, regardless of your video game skill, the sentiment involved in this TV commercial is something that is all too familiar in human experience, and completely at odds with the will of God for His people.

"Payback is a comin', you will be runnin' forevahhh!"

"Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord." -- Romans 12:19

"Until I get my vengeance, I will never end this mayhem."

"For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. And again, 'The Lord will judge His people.'" -- Hebrews 10:30

It's doubtful anyone would seriously dispute God's command against taking personal vengeance on another person, although it can't be assumed every believer is aware of it. On the other hand, human emotions can wreak havoc on a person's commitment to remain true to God's commands. John Grisham's novel A Time to Kill is a fictitious example of a person convincing himself that personal vengeance is justified, even to the point of committing murder in retaliation for an unpunished crime.

Does God really prohibit us from taking vengeance in every case?


Doesn't He allow for any exceptions?


Not even if your pre-teen daughter is raped by two men and left unable to conceive, and you fear her unrepentant attackers will be acquitted by a racist jury. (This is the main plot of A Time to Kill.)

Not even then. Not even when every emotion in your mind tells you the wrong has to be made right. In fact, especially then.

God reserves the business of vengeance for Himself alone. Funny how most of us wouldn't be bold enough to walk into our boss's office and sit down at the desk, out of respect for that person's territory. Yet, vengeance, as clearly as God has marked it as His own, is a place where many people are willing to tread without fear.

Vengeance is God's place. Don't go there. Make this commitment now, while all is well. Get this anchor in the water before waves begin to swell. If not, if you wait until you've been wronged, you can't trust what your mind will work out on its own.

But, even if we manage to resist the temptation to take vengeance when we've been wronged, is this really all God is looking for?

What was the standard Jesus taught during His ministry?

When Jesus spoke on the subjects of adultery and murder (Matthew 5:21-30), He took the discussion to a higher level than the people were accustomed to. No longer could righteousness be found in the mere avoidance of the full-blown, completed, physical act. Jesus challenged the people to consider the state of their hearts and minds, and made it clear to them that the fantasies of their minds had just the same spiritual consequence as the actual deed would have had.

Should we not apply the same principle to the discussion of vengeance?

Can we consider ourselves Christ-like for turning the other cheek, if all the while we're imagining carrying out our full vengeance against the offender?

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me." -- Psalm 51:10


Paul Ford said...

I haven't seen this comercial yet, but if I did now, I'm sure I would shake my head. I've seen some similar, and I'm saddened and scared at knowing what this world is coming to. When kids take pleasure and entertainment in playing games that teach and encourage them to be both disrespectful and even murdurous to each other and persons in places of authority. We've all seen these events play out in real life -- a lot of which was inspired by a hateful video game - or rather "training simulation".

On the other hand, Lord, give me the strength to "sit on my own hands" when someone harms me or someone I love.

Wrapping Supplies said...

Yes, "Mercs, Inc." has been announced. It was the unnamed "Project Y" planned by Pandemic Studios. I love the Mercenaries games. No matter how many times I play through the game, I always find something new.