There have been recent numerous examples of 'enemies crouching at the door' as revealed in the mass media let alone social media and these have ranged from hoax letters, photographs on sex after a relationship breaks up, false insurance claims – and this is only the top of the ice berg.
I have slightly changed the Bible text (Genesis chapter 4 verse 7) from 'sin crouches at the door' to 'enemies crouching at the door'. The Biblical verse of 'sin' is that of an inward context, whereas 'enemies' is that of an external context.
Here we can refer to the Psalms and the Proverbs where constant attention is given to this perplexing question, that if a follower of Yahweh (The Lord) is that much of a celebration, why is it that our enemies get an advantage over us, do better than us, make more money than us, you get the drift!
This article does not address those particular questions, that will be for another day, rather the question I am posing today for discussion is in relation to the reality that we have enemies and sometimes that this itself is perplexing.
We might list here some of the reasons why we have such enemies. Jealousy. Pride. Selfishness. Expectations. Personality. Greed.
It might not be such a mad idea at this point to unpick some of these to help us identify why a person might become an enemy and then try and fathom how anyone might turn that around.
The Scriptures pick up on these in our human relationships right from the start of Genesis as each of these is a cornel to that of 'sin crouching at the door'. But that is not our question, our question is being on the receiving end and how might that be turned around.
The original list from the media – play out in everyday life. Hoax letters meant to do harm and create not only mischief but serious emotional and financial hardship. The revenge (porn) motif is very significant and this plays out in such manner as to do harm to reputation and to the future. The third relates of a whole range of legal and business fraud.
In all three of these, the subject of accountability pops up. To unpick any of these, there is an expectation of justice – with accountability being applied.
Put two children together and disputes are inevitably due to a sense of justice not being enacted. A bigger piece of cake is handed to one of the children – justice is the centre issue.
In all these - Jealousy. Pride. Selfishness. Expectations. Personality. Greed. Dig deeper and the issue is inevitably found in the area of a lack of accountability being enacted in an original incident. Justice, Fairness, Accountability.
The heartbreak associated with court cases is that for those who have suffered, been on the receiving end (car accident injuries and deaths, murders, terrorism, assault, sexual abuse, theft, reputation ... whatever) the accountability the critical.
In the Christian sense there are two concurrent accountabilities. There is an understanding that for everybody's safety and good-order there are civil society laws to protect and safeguard the citizenry. For those found not to have upheld those by a court, a Judge is there to pass sentence.
Then there is an eternal accountability. The Lord has made it very clear that He is the final judge and vengeance is His. For the Lord to have even mentioned this implies that there will be an accounting and that accounting will be based on God's standards.
The double mixture
We're dealt with a mixture of broth – one ingredient is that there needs to be an earthly accountability for good-order of civil society. Another ingredient is that any vengeance belongs to God. The question is whether these two can possibly co-exist.
There are two other ingredients when mixed together allows a kind of a moving on. Forgiveness is essential. It allows you to leave it all behind, forgiveness lets the weight of all that evil upon you to be ditched within your heart. Believe me, it works. Second, move forward.
As strange as it may seem, all too often what transpired, will eventually out, even years and years later. The dirty deals, the behind the scenes deceit, the trickery, the foul smelling decisions.
Yet at another level, for society to function with good-order and this even within the Church and Missions, accountability is often required before a moving on can even take place. This double mixture is a tricky business. Yes, you need to stand your ground against evil. At another level exhibit personal forgiveness and at the same time, be part of the civil process associated with accountability. This is the area that so many times in church and missions, it all falls down.
If things are not right, there is a stench, a smell about something. I know of ministries based on lies and not honouring those who have gone before, and many of their people feeling powerless having contacted mentors expressing deep concern.
This is where the Psalmists calls out the injustice and calls for accountability. Psalm 6 verses 7-10 spells it out: "My eye wastes away because of grief,; it grows old because of my enemies. ... For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping ... Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled."
The wisest of Christians leaves such horrible dealings to the Lord and yet realises that unless there is good-order for civil society chaos erupts and when this happens within the Christian church / missions the Spirit reveals an unease, a measure of disdain. There is shame.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html