How much have you been touched by “cancel culture”(CC)? For those unfamiliar with the term, CC means “cancelling” (everything from ignoring to tearing up by the roots and killing) any person, place, or thing that disappoints, offends, or is simply in disagreement with your beliefs and ways of thinking. CC has become such a common mindset that many do not even realize how much their behavior has slid down the slippery slope of “cancellation” as a way of dealing with their problems.
We have seen CC at work recently in efforts trying to erase the history of our nation’s heritage. Leadership imperfections may exist, but tearing down statues and changing the names of places, cannot change the past. Nor can it heal any woundedness caused by past events. Trying to “cancel” only makes problems worse. Why? Because it doesn’t change the human heart.
A recent post on Facebook captures a critical observation. Pastor R. Loren Sandford of New Song Church and Ministries in Colorado writes, “I've concluded that some people have a sick NEED to hate. It might be hate for a Christian leader. It might be directed at a political figure. It might be directed at the opposite sex. It can be racial. It can be religious. In any case the need will be there and it will manifest in damage done to relationships of all kinds.
Why Is it there? Because It promises power and significance while turning the hater ultimately into a victim. For at least a generation now we've been conditioned as a culture to think of ourselves as victims instead of sinners who are saved and victorious in Jesus. Victims of sexism. Victims of race. Victims of abuse. Victims of injustice. Victims of circumstance. Victims of politics. Victims of the big corporations. Victims of unfair treatment. On and on it goes.
And now hatred consumes the land. I think we need to remember that we are called to be conformed to the image of the Son of God. He was not the victim of the cross. He accomplished the cross. And then rose again.”
I like this quote because prophetic pastor Sandford doesn’t just state a problem, but also states the solution. The solution is the heart transforming power of Jesus. Honoring God by surrendering more and more of our hearts to him on a continuing basis, is literally our only salvation (see Philippians 2:12). Changing from the inside out is our hope for victory over victim status (see Mark 7:17-23). This solution requires a radical, daily commitment. Sometimes moment-to-moment intentionality is necessary, especially when we seem surrounded by “haters.” Hate, though it tries to blame (and thus shame) others, ironically brings shame back on the one who hates. Hate becomes a vicious cycle of creating victims of hate.
Shame and condemnation are at the root of victimhood. Backtracking from hatred, the path goes something like this. The roots of hatred lie in bitterness, and the roots of bitterness lie in condemning judgments. Condemning judgments form after complaining, blaming, or justifying. We rely on our own faulty beliefs, make false assumptions, draw inaccurate conclusions, feed more faulty beliefs, form harmful opinions, create condemning judgments which all contribute to making bad decisions leading to bad behavior. An example may go like this. A female with skin color X may have grown up without a positive male influence in her life. Her beliefs were formed by her mom being taken advantage of and her own bad experiences with males of skin color Y. Her assumptions are that ALL men and persons of skin color Y are bad people. A female supervisor’s decision at work did not go in her favor. She assumes her work is not appreciated, and concludes it is because of her skin color X, She decides to quit. A male supervisor in a different department (who she doesn’t like just because he’s a male) offers her a good job. She turns it down mostly because she was still upset (bitter) at losing her original position. She lost her place to live because of unemployment and she blamed all these troubles on being victim of the company’s unfairness. Cancelling incidents like this happen over and over again in marriages, family relationships, churches, and organizations to the detriment of everyone involved.
Our hearts are prone to bitter, condemning judgments that create destruction. Bitterness is like a weed in a garden that will continue to spread unless it is rooted out. Bitterness automatically finds a way to blame others as “bad,” and justify self as “good.” Seeing faults in others and not seeing them in ourselves, is an innate tendency of our sin nature, and can only be rolled back through the saving power of Jesus.
Another enemy of a productive garden is insects. Psychiatrist Daniel Amen describes our Automatic Negative Thoughts as ANTS. Amen’s articles and books describe how this acronym came to him after finding an ant infested kitchen in his home. The infestation was like the images of brains of his anxiety and depression ridden patients who had one negative thought after another stealing their happiness and contentment in life. Getting rid of ANTS means we must be actively resistant to complaining, blaming, justifying, making false assumptions, drawing inaccurate conclusions, forming harmful opinions, and allowing bitter, condemning judgments to take root in our hearts. They turn us into victims whenever they get a chance.
The best “pest control” treatment for these ANTS is gratitude. As a follower of Jesus, the thing I am most grateful for is his ability to change the things I am powerless to change. I can’t change other people, but I can allow God to change my heart. When people do me wrong, it does me no good to hold bitterness against them. God never “cancels” a person, and therefore does not allow me to cancel a person either. But God does want me to “cancel” (root out) bitterness and victimhood from my own heart (see Hebrews 12:4-15). I have the choice not to be a victim by receiving God’s power of forgiveness and granting forgiveness to my offender. See an earlier article for more on this: authoredhersh.blogspot.com/2011/10/overcoming-cycle-of-offense.html .
Is there someone you are avoiding because of a disagreement or ill-treatment of some sort? Is there a group, employer, church, organization, political party, or some other affiliation that instantly triggers your thoughts in a negative direction (produces ANTS)? If so, you may be sloshing in more bitterness and victim than you realize. Ask God for forgiveness and consider what action you need to take to gain victory.
For people reading this who like me, sometimes find themselves on the receiving end of CC, never lose hope in the power of God to intervene. When people try to cancel you out, let the love of Christ give you the affirmation and validation no human can give. Believing in Jesus is our salvation (see John 3:16-17).
God’s love, as expressed through Jesus coming to this earth, cancelled victimhood once and for all. The gospel “cancels” no person. Each is redeemable, no matter how bad their actions may have been in the past, or how bad others’ actions toward them may have been. Jesus is our Redeemer. Jesus is our Refuge. Jesus delivers us from victim to victory.
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry