The Person Who is Demanding Reconciliation is the Abuser
Isaiah 58:1-3 Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God. “Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?” Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.
I don’t know why, but when I get in the shower my brain starts working. I need to get some kind of waterproof notepad so I can write down the ideas that start coming. They are fleeting – you can forget them before you dry off. At least at my age anyway.
Well, in today’s shower, the Scripture printed above came to my mind, in connection with a truth that I have learned the hard way about abuse. That truth is this –
Abusers demand forgiveness and reconciliation. Victims don’t. Genuinely repentant people don’t. In other words, the person who insists that people maintain a relationship with him is the guilty party. He is the abuser. When victims of abuse come to understand what is happening to them, they do not plead with their abuser to “please, please, please don’t leave.” But abusers do. They demand it. They even get angry when the victim keeps her distance.
Let me describe how this has worked itself out in my experience. An abusive, controlling man who was once a member of my congregation kept us all duped for a long time. Finally our eyes began to open to who he really was. We confronted him many times, calling on him to repent. He would not. His profession of faith in Christ was a facade; because of that he wasn’t grieved over his sin, he wouldn’t be corrected and he never changed his ways. However he did began to demand (in various ways) that myself and others continue to maintain the same relationship with him we had previously. We would not. He began to get angry. He confronted me and put all the guilt for the estrangement upon me. He reminded me how he had called me and invited me, but I had not responded. He lectured me about how un-Christian my behavior was. And he did this in front of others, trying to show how “forgiving and merciful” he was being to me. When I told him that he had obviously not repented and was unchanged, he stormed away in anger.
And then, he went to work to win allies to his cause. Soon the story was being spread that I had spurned him and refused to reconcile as all good Christians should. I had people coming to me telling me how hurt this man was because of my cold, heartless treatment of him. Of course, they were ignorant of who this man really was and knew nothing of the wicked things he had done.
But here is the point I am getting at – this man was guilty. He was the one who abused others. And that was revealed by his insistence that everyone embrace him and maintain an uninterrupted relationship with him, and his anger when we would not. Innocent people do not act this way. But guess what? Churches, pastors, and Christians have it all backwards! Falling prey to the lies of the abuser, they conclude that HE is the fine Christian who is working hard on forgiveness and reconciliation, and that the VICTIM is guilty because he or she refuses to play a sham of a game and “reconcile” with a person who has only grown more evil.
So let’s get it straight! The insistence and demand for forgiveness and reconciliation is NOT the mark of an innocent person. Israel was doing the very same thing with the Lord. They went to church, fasted, offered their offerings, and then got all bent out of shape when the Lord refused to bless them. In essence, His response to them was “Hogwash! You make me sick. Your religion is a sham. Go home and stop polluting my temple.”
And that is not too bad of a line for us to use on such a person either.