david herndon

the victim card

I grew up with 2 older brothers who could, on occasion, be very good at being older brothers.  I was scrawny and a little under-confident when it came to conflict, so I didn’t have a lot to play when it came to holding my own in the “brotherly love” department.  But one thing I could do very well – play the victim card.  Tears.  Exaggeration.  Screaming & Yelling.  I had it all.  Once I slapped myself in the face and blamed it on my brother just so I could watch TV by myself.  It is a powerful tool… unless you overplay it.  

I discovered this powerful truth: The victim card only works if you are actually a victim.

Eventually my cries and woes became a nuisance to my family.  Instead of getting what I wanted, I was labeled a crybaby and sent to my room.  I had overplayed the victim card.  No one cared what I had to say anymore.  The only choice I had left was to mature, become responsible, and start standing up for myself.  I had to stop being selfish and start thinking about the other people in the family… even when I disagreed with them.  

I saw this cartoon floating around the internet last year, and I saw it again last week when a student shared it with me.  



In true over-confident teenager form he followed up by saying, “This is what’s wrong with our world.  Nobody cares about Christians anymore.”  Really?  This cartoon is all that is wrong with the world?  He’s half right I guess.  

Sometimes I don’t think anyone cares about the Christians anymore either… at least not in America.  His use of this cartoon is a good example of how (American) Christians play the victim card.  Someone or some group is doing something we don’t like, no one is listening to us, so we whine and cry and point fingers at the mean old non-Christians (which often really aren’t non-Christians, they just don’t “do christianity” the way we do).  

Today its a cartoon about Tim Tebow being shut out of the media and gay rights.  Yesterday it was about Target not saying “Merry Christmas” when you go shopping at 3 AM on black Friday.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but American Christians will probably find something to complain about.  Some judge okays it for two guys to get married or a Christian film gets bad reviews and we all scream “Persecution!”  

Really?  Persecution?  Even if it were true, no one is listening.

Remember: The victim card only works if you are actually a victim.

A lot of Christians do a lot of whining and crying because they think they are victims.  I am not saying they are wrong for believing what they believe.  I am not saying they are wrong for wanting the world to look differently than it does.  I am saying they are wrong in playing the victim card, because quite truthfully, American Christians are anything but victims.  Christians in America have more freedom and rights as a group than anywhere else in the world.  

Christians in the middle east and other parts of the world woke up this morning wondering if they would be martyred as a part of mass genocide.  Christian Solidarity International puts up a map of current attacks on Christians and genocide warnings.  I don’t see America on this map.  When you visit the CSI website you don’t read about Tim Tebow.  You read about people being murdered.  You read about people being stolen from their homes and forced into slavery.  You read about real persecution.  

I almost find it hysterical that Americans play the victim card so well considering that Christians who are truly persecuted, both in the past and present, hardly ever play the victim card.  And they really are victims!  Just consider some of the things people like Paul and Peter said about persecution.  When the apostles write about persecution they don’t use words like “boycott” or phrases like “write your congressman.”  They use words like “endure” and “rejoice.”  They use phrases like “so the world will know Christ.”  Peter and Paul (and probably Mary too) knew that the victim card is not a powerful card.  They understood that to truly defend faith in Christ, you simply have to display faith in Christ… especially in times of persecution.

There is no stronger evidence of the power of Christ than acceptance in the face of rejection, love in the face of hate, and faith in the face of attack.

It is no secret that the American Church is in decline.  I believe a large part of that can be attributed to American Christians playing the victim card.  In a country of 80,000 member mega-churches, multi-million dollar progam budgets, Christian movie studios, and… oh yeah… freedom of religion, no one feels sorry for us.  No one feels the need to come to our defense.  Rather, they want to distance themselves from us and send us to our room for a permanent time-out.  They see us using our resources and freedoms to complain instead of using them to serve a hurting world.  Sometimes they can’t see the love in us because of all the agendas being pushed at them.

What a hurting world needs is to find a loving body of believers who empathize them and a group of people who are ready to come to their defense.  We encounter people “different” than us and all we think is “don’t engage, don’t empathize, don’t be influenced.” What we should be thinking is “engage, empathize, influence!”  John Wesley said it best: “No one cares what you know until they know that you care.”  We are so worried about having something taken from us that we have forgotten to freely give of ourselves. 

We have a wonderful message of hope that this hurting world needs to hear. But how can we win anyone to Christ when we fail to display His love?

It is time that we, the American Church, decide to mature, accept our responsibilities, and start thinking about the rest of the people in our family.  The acceptance card is much more powerful than the rejection card.  The love card is much more powerful than the hate card.  The communication card is much more powerful than the screaming and yelling card.  The empathy card is always more powerful than the victim card.

We are not called to be victims.  We are called to be defenders, to be peacemakers, and (above all) to be reflections of Christ.

I am challenged more than ever these days to make sure that I complain less and display faith more, that I judge less and that I accept more, that I whine less and that I rejoice more… especially when it is difficult to do so.  I hope you are too.

We are not victims.  Let’s stop acting like it.

Since we are no longer victims, now we can be defenders. Try taking one of these steps this week:

1. Pray for the Christians, both American and foreign, who are facing persecution in foreign countries right now.  Visit CSI often and find out how you can help to defend the people who need it most.  

2. Reach out to someone who is different than you in their beliefs, their lifestyle, or even their neighborhood.  Look for ways to accept, embrace, love, and help them.  Invite them to church or to share a meal.  An easy way to do this is to find a local outreach and get involved.

3. When you want to complain this week or you are tempted to play the victim card… Don’t.

*Please note:  If you want to comment on this post, I encourage it.  However, this is not a post on anything controversial.  It is not a post defending any one position.  This is a post addressing the need for the American Church to regain its potential at reaching a hurting world through love and grace.  If you would like to talk about that, please comment.  If you only want to “attack” another side or criticize any particular group, please do not comment.


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