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Letters to the Editor: Entitlement or Enlightenment

It’s Christmas time. A truly great time to enjoy family, food and friends. But Christmas, as defined by its name, is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. He is and can be our example and model for everything in life. First, He offers us salvation through faith in Him, acceptance of his death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection, which allows us to live eternally WITH Him. He offers us hope and a purposeful future if we let him. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Through His earthly life, He also demonstrates how to respond to being a victim of incomprehensible atrocities.

Victimhood and its link to entitlement surface in almost every circle. I believe the spirit of entitlement occurs and is often sourced by a “victim mentality”. At one time or another, we all have experienced being a victim, albeit of different magnitudes. It may have happened from a petty offence, i.e. something relatively small, stolen from us, or of much greater significance, such as being the victim of a major crime, and in some cases, involving discrimination. We hear and read about these offences almost every day. It is normal, when we feel harmed/violated, to become offended or angry and want what we see as justice to prevail. Initially, we may respond this way as we find ourselves in a victim mentality mode.

However, the question being considered here is how long we should let being in this mode control and affect our everyday living. This also may be wrestled with on a much larger, pluralistic scale. To elaborate a bit, we know there are minorities of all stripes and backgrounds as well as gender and religious affiliations who have experienced being discriminated against in the past, in some cases for a very long time. Sadly, some of this activity still exists today.

Of course, we as a society must do all we can to eliminate it and to level the playing field in every area and demographic. We must strive for genuine and true equity, with no exceptions. God made us all in his image. Genesis 1:26 “So God created mankind in his own image.” Psalm 139 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” He loves us equally and unconditionally and desires for us to act that same way with each other. However, He did create us differently, whether it be the colour of our skin, ethnicity, gender etc., all for our benefit, not our detriment. We can greatly benefit from our differences and should celebrate them.

So, the big question to me is, since we can’t do anything about the past other than learn from it, how should we respond and live our lives to the richest and fullest capacity, despite what possible victimhood, incidents and atrocities we have previously lived through? I have discovered only in recent years it is not the obstacles which will always come my way, which are the issue, but it’s how I RESPOND to each situation that matters in life.

Jesus Christ, whose birthday we are celebrating, suffered and was victimized despite the fact He alone lived a sinless life. So with the authority and credibility, He possessed, how in fact, did he respond? He was the only one who could truly have been justified in claiming He didn’t deserve it and could have demanded payback, but this was not His spirit. He knew all this would happen ahead of time yet chose to go through it deliberately for our sakes. He stayed committed to His purpose of helping, serving, loving unconditionally and, most importantly, saving people from every background who will receive Him. His focus was never on His victimhood and plight; instead, He forgave the atrocities as He served others, despite the sufferings, insults and hardships He endured, ultimately on our behalf!

Many years ago, Jim Elliot, a missionary in South America, was murdered by some of the very people he came to help and serve. His wife and son forgave the perpetrators and continue to work amongst them. They have enjoyed a close relationship together, serving the Lord, and helping so many of the very people Jim set out to reach. What a transformation. 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sin.” The Elliots managed to remove themselves from the bitter paralysis a long-term victim mentality brings on.

When we are victimized, we do not get over it right away. Each of us deals with and processes this experience differently, which we must be sensitive to. We do need to get through the initial period of struggle, possible anger, sadness, grieving and a desire to seek justice. I believe genuine forgiveness is more effective in releasing the victim than it is the offender. The amazing act of forgiveness Jesus first offers us can be liberating and can enable us to change our focus, as the Elliots demonstrated. God desires this and will help us to accomplish it if we let Him; after all, He created us with a purpose and plan.

A prolonged sense of victimization can lead to a spirit of entitlement which can consume and preoccupy us. So after an appropriate period, if we can remove the shackles of past victimization, we can be liberated and have a completely different perspective on life which God wants for us all. This new perspective will reveal to us the problem is not the actual issue; the problem is how we see it.

Merry Christmas to all. “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

Robert Pullan


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