Have you ever noticed how some people thrive in their own sinfulness and misery? I’ve also noticed that several individuals who are perpetually miserable don’t claim any responsibility for their life’s downward spiral. They wallow in self-pity and play the victim superbly. Quite often, they create situations in which they’re victimized. Some surround them with pity and support which only feeds their delusions.
Playing the victim is a profitable delusion for some individuals. It’s actually easier to convince yourself that you’re being persecuted and continue down the path of self-delusion than to admit fault. When others pity you, it only reinforces that delusion.
I can openly admit that I’ve played the victim from time to time. I think we all have. I’ve also clung onto my own sin and addictions as if they were actually benefiting my life. When we play the victim, we arrogantly embrace our pride and endure the pains of resentment just so we don’t have to admit we’re wrong. When we harden our hearts and grasp onto our sins and addictions, we delude ourselves into believing that there is more comfort in the life we’re living than any other option. We can’t comprehend how repentance—acceptance of our sin and responsibility—could lead to an even more comfortable redemption.
Twelve years ago, I was talking with a young man in my youth group. He told me that he didn’t want to accept Christ yet, because he wanted to enjoy his life first. I understood where he was coming from. I had once believed the lie that a life in the darkness of sin is more enjoyable than a life in the light of Jesus. This lie is perpetuated by the deceptive practices of Satan—he convinces us that the Christian life is stagnant, that God is a fun-hater, and that Heaven will be BORING! The enemy LOVES it when we subscribe to these lies. Randy Alcorn writes:
“Satan need not convince us that Heaven doesn’t exist. He need only convince us that Heaven is a place of boring, unearthly existence. Satan cannot stop Christ’s redemptive work, but he can keep us from seeing the breadth and depth of redemption that extends to the earth and beyond.”
Satan wants us to believe that the stench of sin, death, and addiction is better than the glory of redemption and eternal life found in Jesus Christ.
At the end of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Frodo is overwhelmed with the agony of carrying such a heavy burden…the ring is too much to bear. In fact, Sam actually carries Frodo for the final stretch of the journey. In the final climactic moment, Frodo reaches the precipice of the volcano where he can finally be free of the ring and all the baggage it carries. Unfortunately, Frodo succumbs to the power of the ring…he convinces himself that he can wield the ring’s power…that he is better off with the ring than without it. Instead of destroying the ring, Frodo claims it as his own and risks, not only his own redemption, but the redemption of everyone and everything he holds dear.
Sin, addiction, pain, and persecution are burdensome…but sometimes…the absence of those things is petrifying.
Our pride, our desires, our compulsion to be pitied, our hardened hearts…all stand in the way of our freedom—our redemption! We’ve bought into the enemy’s lies and convinced ourselves that our life outside the light of Jesus is better than the life inside it.
The bloody Nile didn’t convince Pharaoh to free the Israelites, so God made frogs come up out of the Nile and overrun the land of Egypt. There were frogs in everyone’s houses, in their beds, their ovens, their pots, and their pans. Frogs were EVERYWHERE!
Unable to take it anymore, Pharaoh summoned Moses and begged him to get rid of the frogs. This is how the conversation went down:
Pharaoh: Pray to the LORD to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the LORD.
Moses: I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.
And now, for my interpolation:
Moses: Tomorrow? Really? I thought you wanted ’em gone? You’re willing to spend the night in a bed full of frogs? Just say the word…and poof…they’re gone. Now! Today!
Pharaoh wanted to be free from the invasion of the frogs, but he wasn’t sure it was worth the risk. Pharaoh needed to assess how bad his life with frogs really was. He needed some time to think…to go over the pros and cons one last time. Why should he do today, what can be put off until tomorrow? What if living with frogs is better than living without them?
When Jesus called Peter, James, and John to be his disciples, “they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:11). When faced with the call from Jesus to follow him, we also have to be like Peter, James, and John, drop what we’re doing and follow him…no looking back…no assessing our current situation…no bargaining with Jesus for more time…no putting off for tomorrow what we’re called to do today.
Later, a man approached Jesus and said: “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:61-62).
I guess when we’re asked to choose the time we’d like the frogs out of our houses, our beds, and our pots and pans…when we want to be released from the burden of sin, pain, suffering, and addiction…when we’d like to follow Jesus and experience freedom and redemption, our answer should be, “TODAY!”