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Why Do Christians Delight in Revenge Fantasies?

Why Do Christians Delight in Revenge Fantasies?

Vengeance may be the Lord's, but with stories like John Wick and Cruella, Christians may find themselves falling prey to the cultural idea that humans need to seek out revenge to properly mete out justice. I remember exiting the theater of Cruella, feeling uneasy. My friend asked me what was wrong. I said, "I don't really like the moral of that story: to seek revenge, to serve just desserts to a villain." 

"Really?" My friend asked. "I was cheering for (Cruella) the whole time."

This Karmic principle of what goes around comes around has sneaked its way into Christian circles. Below, we'll analyze why this is and why we need to celebrate stories of forgiveness instead.

Why Do Some Christians Delight in Revenge Fantasies?

Before we answer this question, I need to add a caveat. Not all Christians delight in the idea of revenge. In fact, many of us abhor the idea of a human serving as a vigilante to make sure that whoever wronged them "gets theirs." But we can't deny that even small instances of revenge, of pettiness, have crept into Christian circles. From Thanksgiving clapbacks to Facebook comments, Christians do seem to take delight in revenge. And it's no different when it comes to our media. So let's analyze some potential reasons as to why we might like this idea of revenge, even though it runs contrary to Scripture.

We don't like God's timing

We've watched the pain of those who went a lifetime with the scars of those who wronged them. Where it seems like the wicked prosper (Jeremiah 12). And we wonder why God hasn't stepped in yet and made sure the enemy knows who is boss. So we delight in stories of revenge because we see people operating on "their" timing, on our timing. We vicariously live through their stories and imagine what it would be like to send that scathing text to someone, to pull that prank on that mean boss.

We get the ideas of justice and revenge mixed up

The Bible does call us to do justice (Micah 6:8) but it doesn't call us to do revenge.

Let's explore the difference between these two.

Justice, according to Crosswalk, is, "When God lists the actions of a just man in Ezekiel 18:5-9, He tells us that such a person does not oppress anyone or seek to take advantage of them to make a profit. A just man judges fairly, obeys God’s laws, and provides food and clothing for those in need."

In other words, it seeks to do right. It provides for those who are less fortunate. It obeys God's laws and compels others to do the same.

Now let's look at revenge.

Revenge, in other words, is payback to the evildoer who has wronged you. It is choosing to take vengeance into your own hands, rather than let God handle the situation. 

We've fallen prey to our culture's lies

Culture tells us that forgiveness and kindness are weaknesses. And that if we turn the other cheek, we let the enemy win. Culture tells us to be assertive, assert our dominance, and make sure that no one steps on us.

While the Bible doesn't call us to be doormats, it does ask us to act contrary to what our culture asks. We pray for our enemies instead of seeking revenge on them. We allow God to move, even when we want to make the first move.

What Does the Bible Say about Revenge?

1 Peter 3:9: "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."

As Christians, we know that the world looks at us in a different way. They want us to slip up, to delight in evil. We cannot allow ourselves to do that. Instead, let's surprise the world and repay evil with a blessing.

Deuteronomy 32:35: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them."

God never acts too late, and he never acts too soon. God will not allow evil to thrive forever. Trust in Him and His timing.

Leviticus 19:18: "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD."

God calls us to love our neighbor. It's the second greatest command, next to loving God. We ought to remember Jesus' example. Where he refused to seek revenge on those who had wronged him. Instead, he died for them, so that they may spend an eternity with him. May we love others with even an ounce of that incredible love!

Mark 11:25: "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

We forgive because God first forgave us. He paid an enormous debt for us, how can we not forget those who have lesser debts against us?

How Do We Stop Delighting in Revenge Fantasies?

It's hard to fight against human nature and culture's lies, but I think it all boils down to looking at the example of Jesus.

He was scourged, slapped, spit on, and had every right to come down from that cross and annihilate everyone at Golgotha who mocked him.

But instead, he accepted God's will. He loved his enemies and prayed for them, even on the cross.

We stop ourselves from delighting in revenge when we see the example of Jesus and plunge fully into our call to love our neighbor. Friends, we are called to be different. In a world that cancels, that sends petty messages, that cheers on the villain who literally kills dogs to make fur coats, let us forgive. Let us trust in the Lord's timing and know that, in the end, wrongs will be righted, and that God does not delight in evil. 

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Khosrork

Hope Bolinger is an acquisitions editor at End Game Press, and the author of almost 30 books. More than 1500 of her works have been featured in various publications. Check out her books at hopebolinger.com for clean books in most genres, great for adults and kids.

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