A victor acts a certain way and a victim another. Victors enjoy their spoils. They celebrate. They laugh. They throw parties. Victims diminish into the background, shy and reclusive for fear of being hurt. A victor wants to taste vi ctory again. A victim wants no part in any endeavor where he may not win, choosing to isolate himself and villanize others.
Christ won, and he shares his victory with us, and yet we live like victims. We must learn to live in victory, to walk in victory, to enjoy the spoils of war.
One of the simplest ways to enjoy the victory we have in Christ is to look at your life and consider all that you should be, but aren’t, negatively. For example, I recently spoke to a woman whose husband had an affair and left her alone with her children. She was devastated. She told me, “I should hate him and hate [the woman he ran off with], but I don’t. I can’t forgive them yet, but I’m already convinced I will be able to. Maybe soon.” This woman, by all rights, should have been bitter, hateful, resentful, and full of spite. She should have identified herself as a victim. But she didn’t.
That’s victory—to know that even though you’ve been hurt, you’re still willing to forgive.
To find solace, even though you should be riddled with hate.
To have peace, even in the midst of life’s conflicts.
Every time you should be something (bad), and you’re not, that’s victory.
Over the years I’ve come to adopt a few little formulae to help me process the work of Christ in me. They’re simple really, but I find myself writing them on scraps of paper or in the margins of my Bible. Because they help.
I’m_________ (happy, good, hopeful, etc)
even though I’m_______(suffering, flawed, hurting, etc)
because Christ______(is with me, forgives me, promises me, etc)
As I brainstorm all the possible responses to these simple blank spaces, I’m amazed at how prevalent his victory actually is in me. His work is so comprehensive that the least strenuous application of my will and thoughts bring forth a fountain of true possible answers.
Another little favorite is to write:
I should be_____(fed up, crushed, violent, etc)
but I’m not. Instead, I am ______( patient, resilient, peaceful, etc)
I think what I like most about this second option is the play on words. I AM is a common way to refer to God, hearkening back to Exodus when God revealed himself to Moses. It makes sense to me that the most victorious aspects of my life are the ones where I am most like I AM.
And, of course, I’m no longer a victim.
I am a victor, precisely because the victory was won by I AM.
I just need to start living like it.
Dr. David McDonald is the teaching pastor at Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, MI. The church, widely considered among the most innovative in America, has been featured on CNN.com and in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Time Magazine. David weaves deep theological truths with sharp social analysis and peculiar observations on pop culture. He lives in Jackson with his wife, Carmel, and their two kids. Follow him on twitter (@fossores) or online at fossores.com