I listened to a very interesting programme earlier today on national radio on the subject of humiliation and its catastrophic effects at a national, communal and personal level.
Any humiliation breeds resentment and anger, much in the same way as physical, sexual or emotional abuse – all of which of course are themselvs agents of humiliation.
History is replete with examples of national humiliation – be it of the Jewish people by the Germans, by the allies towards Germany after WW1 or today of the Palestinian people by Israel. What is certain is that humiliation untouched by grace is cyclical and breeds only future hatred and further violence.
At an individual level most of us will have experienced the pain of humiliation in some form or another. Not only so, but if we are honest, many of us will have been the perpetrator in the humiliation of another. There seems to be something in our nature that likes to “get one over” on other people and in some form humiliate them.
The question must be – how do we deal with humiliation and the tendency within to become the humiliator?
Imagine for a moment your life has been exemplary – you have shown love, grace, mercy and kindness to all – but yet continually face misjudgment, misunderstanding, slander and humiliation. How hard must that be? That is just what Jesus experienced!
Here is a man who lived the perfect life and yet suffered the greatest humiliation possible – he was cruelly mocked in public, viciously flogged and ultimately stripped naked and nailed to a Roman cross where he died in unimaginable agony. This was the humiliation of all humiliations. And yet –
“While being reviled and insulted, He did not revile or insult in return; while suffering, He made no threats [of vengeance], but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges fairly.”
1 Peter 2:23 Amplified Bible (AMP)
In the context of the above Peter is writing to a people who lived in daily humiliation – they were slaves. Yet he encourages them –
“For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.”
1 Peter 2:19-21 [NLT]
This advice of course goes against every fibre of the natural man [and woman] and in a world where everyone and their cat demands their “rights” this is a strange and alien concept indeed. But it is the way of the true follower of Jesus. And it is only as we as individuals follow The Way that the cycle of personal, communal and national humiliation can truly be broken.