Resentment is Killing America
What’s at the heart of the matter?
Why does resentment get such a grip on us? Why is it that we so easily become set off at the smallest comment? What is it about us that makes a person cutting us off in traffic lead to an immediate negative reaction? And what happened 50 years ago at Stanford that can give us hope?
A few years ago, I was walking with a friend of mine around a lake. The hiking and biking paths are close together and sometimes they overlap. At one point, I was caught up in conversation with my friend and I ended up walking on the bike path. I was not aware of this until I heard the little bell of a biker behind me. I turned around and I realized I was in his way. Caught by surprise, I began to jump back-and-forth in an involuntary reaction of fear. The biker misunderstood my antics and yelled at me, “You’re not supposed to be on this path. Get off the path!” I lost it. As he rode by, I told him to come back so we could work this out man to man. It seems funny now that I reacted so harshly, but at the time I couldn’t control my anger.
What is it about me that makes it so easy to lose control of my emotions and feelings in this way?
There is something in all of us that tends to react negatively to the criticism and anger of others. But where do these reactions come from? Can we get to the heart of the matter?
Recently, many people have become interested in their ancestry and DNA tests have become incredibly popular. By using a little of our spit, we can learn things about our genetic history, whether we come from Europe, Russia, Africa or some combination of many nations. And regardless of how true or false the information might be, these results give people some sense of knowing why they are the way they are.
There is another DNA reality that connects us to an ancestry that goes a lot deeper than what your spit reveals about your countries of origin. All people are scared “spit-less” by the discovery. The reason for our fear is that our spiritual ancestry reveals something about us that we are ashamed to admit. We don’t have to go online to discover it. It is hiding within us. It is as we sometimes call it, the “skeleton in the closet.”
So what is our “skeleton?” We have a spiritual ancestry of losers who knew how to lose it:
· They lost goodness by trading it for darkness
· They lost a life of blessing by exchanging it for a life of cursing.
· They became experts at making nothing out of something.
You and I also have this spiritual gene within us. We are capable of losing it in every way, even in those little moments where we blow up at the most insignificant events like a biker picking on us.
Fifty years ago on January 6, at Stanford University, Dr. Richard Shumway performed the first successful heart transplant in America. The patient unfortunately lived for only 14 days before his body rejected the transplant, but the possibility for a dead heart to be replaced with a living heart was at last realized. Since that first surgery, advances in medicine have reduced the risk of heart transplants dramatically. Yet each of these surgeries still require time and energy, extensive hospitalization, and perhaps most necessary, a viable donor.
In order to get a new heart, each patient must wait for someone else to die. Three thousand people a year get a physical heart transplant while another 4,000 are on the waitlist. The need for heart donors will never be fully met, and each donor provides a heart transplant patient with a truly life-saving gift.
The solution to our Dilemma Not Admitted (DNA)
The truth is we are all suffering from heart attacks. What we hate to admit is that our hearts are the ones causing our lives the most trouble. This is a strange, self-destructive reality. What is meant to pump life into us instead creates death. No amount of medication will fix us. Our doctor will proclaim that the only solution is surgery. Our old hearts are killing us; we must receive new ones.
How do we get our new heart since the other problem is that every person on earth has the same DNA as you and me? We need a heart from someone not contaminated with our dilemma!
The good news is that we have found a donor for this. Someone has died and His heart is available for you. This donor is like you in every way and yet His heart is not like yours in one huge way: It is free from the spiritual DNA that makes you a loser. His heart is not contaminated.
When you are baptized, you get a new daddy, a new big brother and a new spiritual companion Who is with you. And it is your big brother Who has a heart for you. This can be taken two ways: He cares about you from the bottom of His heart, and He gives you His heart. The name of this heart donor is Jesus.
Jesus is both fully God and fully man. That means His heart existed before human hearts were contaminated. His heart does not have the DNA that your heart has. But because He is fully man, His heart is human and it can replace yours. To do so, Jesus must tear out your old heart of stone that continues to weigh down your life and kill you day after day. And Jesus does this as you hear the good news that He has become all your resentment and you have become all His forgiveness.
But do not think there won’t be trouble. There is a part of you that likes losing it. You like to play the role of the victim. You like finding fault with all things. This part of you won’t give up its power over you. You will have a different kind of heart-trouble now. But this is where your new daddy helps you see your new identity based on His special love for you received in baptism. And your spiritual companion will lead you to places and people where your new heart can find encouragement. You will hear the words, you are forgiven for Jesus’ sake, over and over again. This is the way the Father and the Spirit are working together to help you live with the new heart you have received from the Son. Amen!
Here are three Bible verses that help you understand that your heart is the heart of the matter as it concerns resentment and that your solution is a heart transplant from Jesus. And as you will see, even this God-given solution carries an ongoing battle for all heart-transplant people. But the gifts of God for the people of God bring the power of God, grace, life, hope and peace to your new heart.
Dr. Jesus makes this X-Ray diagnosis in Mark 7:20 where He says, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."
God tells His children in Exile this good news message in Jeremiah 24:7, since He knew how impossible it would be for them to live with Him without the right heart. “I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.” So God your Father does the surgery with the heart of His Son.
The post-transplant physical therapist, St. Paul, echoes the voice of your Spiritual Companion. He sees the heart recovery issues in his own life after he received his own heart transplant. He describes your struggles with the new heart in Romans 7:21-25: “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”