Summary: Annas and Caiphas exhibit the truth that if we do not know God, we do not know ourselves. That produces insecurity, which, in turn, yields destructive defensiveness.
A riddle to begin with today. Can you answer this question? How do two porcupines hug one another? Very carefully! It’s one of those encounters in which, no matter how you approach it, somebody is likely to get hurt.
And we all know some porcupines. Any one of us can be a porcupine on any given day. Say the wrong thing, and somebody is insulted. Somebody feels put down. Somebody feels “dissed”. We all know porcupines; most of us are capable of being porcupines. Prickly, easily hurt, quickly insulted.
Easily hurt people are people who experience very little joy in life. Nothing is ever quite good enough. Everything seems to be a conspiracy to deprive them of esteem. People who are easily insulted take everything the wrong way, and seem to feel that no matter what you do or what you say, it was about them. It was about hurting them. There is very little joy in their lives. Oh, they may get a little joy out of nursing their hurt, but precious little.
A great deal of the world’s misery can be traced to this one thing: out on the mean streets, gangs kill because they perceive that someone has insulted them. Nations go to war because the symbols of their pride are disrespected; let someone burn a flag and see how quickly a nation can rise up in anger. Insults account for a great deal of the world’s misery.
You know, some say that church folks are easily insulted. Some argue that you have to be very careful around religious people, because they are particularly prone to feeling insulted. Well, I don’t know about that, although someone may have been leaving me a message. When I first came here nearly thirteen years ago, I found a little book on my desk; its title was, “How To Deal With Difficult People in the Church”. Maybe someone was sending me a message. I don’t know. I will leave it to your imagination as to whether I’ve read that book!
I do want to try out a theory on you today. I want to propose an idea about where the insulted personality comes from. Maybe we can analyze this prickly spirit and figure him out. And I also want to proclaim redemption from insults. I want not only to think with you about why some of us get insulted; better than that, I want to point you to a place where we can be redeemed from feeling insulted.
Let me begin with the theory, and then we are going to turn to the Bible and study a couple of folks to see if we can flesh out my theory.
Here’s the theory. Why do some of us run around feeling insulted and put down so much of the time?
First, if we hear an insult, our hearing it comes from our own insecurity. If we hear an insult, if we feel put down, it’s not so much what somebody else actually did or said. It’s our own stuff. It’s our own insecurity. If we feel put down, it’s not a question of what someone has said as much as it is a question of their tapping into our own insecurity.
Second, insecurity comes about because we don’t know who we are, deep down inside. We don’t know who we are, with integrity. You may have a role, you may have a reputation, you may have a name in the community. But if you are not comfortable with yourself, you will be insecure, and you will feel insulted. If we do not know who we are, our insecurity will take off and we will think we have to defend ourselves all the time. Insecurity comes from not really knowing who we are, with integrity.
And then, the third thing, not knowing who we are comes from not knowing God. Not truly understanding ourselves and our own worth comes from never having grasped the grace of a God who loves us unconditionally, a God who has taken us as His own, a God who embraces us to His own heart. If you’ve never experienced God’s love, you will neither love nor know yourself. If you have not, deep down, found that God loves you and accepts you unconditionally, you will never know your own heart. You will never accept your own heart. And you will be insecure. Thus you will be hurt and insulted at every turn.
Let me run through that theory again, this time forwards. I gave it to you backwards. But this time let’s go forward. And then on to the Scripture:
First, if we have never been grasped by the abounding grace of God, who loves us and accepts us without reservation, we will not know our own hearts and minds. We will feel at a loss. We will worry about whether we really measure up. We will be anxious. We will not know ourselves, if we do not know God.