By Aaron Brown, Crosswalk.com
Can I be both a victim and a Christian? This is a valuable and important question I’ve had to contend with time and time again. At different stages of my life both roles have been played, sometimes one more than the other. Only as I become wiser in the Christian faith am I able to realize a choice must be made.
Neither have the same master.
Allow me to explain how such a predicament came about. When I was born into the world, I had no choice about my parents, living situation, social status, or whether I had any siblings. The list goes on. All of these external qualities were out of my control. Not only that, I couldn’t even pick anything that related to just myself: how I would look, my personality.
Instead of me getting a choice, God made all those decisions on my behalf.
“For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)
“Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.” (Psalm 139:16)
As life would reveal and as God planned, I was born into a married two-parent household. We were middle class, and with time came two siblings. I’ve been incredibly blessed in ways that God chose to give. Though amidst all those blessings, there was one that felt more like a bane. I was born with brown skin.
This immutable trait felt more like a hindrance than anything else. I thought everything God created was wonderful, but I didn’t feel wonderful. Skin color gave me the reason for victimhood, and I sure felt like a victim.
What Is the Victim Mentality?
Finding a reliable dictionary definition for such a phrase today is difficult. We live in an age where derogatory terms are overused. Racism, bigotry, supremacy, are but a few overwrought words. Instead of citing a dictionary, I’ll try my best to nail a definition of the victim mentality, having been a participant.
Victim Mentality: the state of thinking one’s status in society or a group is inferior to the position of others due to personally defined and unmet criteria.
I saw myself as a victim because I was a black man living in the white man’s world. Or as I say nowadays, a brown man living in the peach man’s world. Today, I abide by new rules on color, and today I’m not a victim. Back then, however, I felt oppressed by the very nature of having a different skin tone. I could recite to you all the reasons why I was a victim, points given to me by the media, by my parents, by my extended family, but none by God.
In the past, I was far more environmentally aware than scripturally.
For example, I highlighted for myself America’s use of brown people as slaves, while ignoring the fact that slavery has existed since the days of the Bible. I blamed high incarceration rates on a racist system, and not the resulting sins of those growing up in fatherless homes.
Why was I so keen to see fault on one end and not the other?
Even in my day-to-day life, any time someone with a certain pigmentation acted unfavorably toward me, I claimed my victim status. Instead of seeing the brokenness of all humanity, I saw only one type of sin – racism.
In my narrow-minded perspective, I realized something important. Living as a victim prevented me from fulfilling the first and second greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40). I couldn’t pursue God earnestly for living life with such fear, and I didn’t love others for believing false narratives about their behavior. I constantly proclaimed racism, which may have in fact made me the real racist.
All that changed when I properly acquainted myself with the true master, not fear, but Jesus.
Make a Decision: Faith or Fear
Though surely my political viewpoints have changed with time, more notable, and more important is the development of my faith. Much like a sapling that grows into a tree, so too has my faith grown. Where I once lived as a self-proclaimed victim, I learned I was a victor, and that was according to Christ. To get there I had to acknowledge my master.
“No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
While the context of this verse addresses greed, my master, my idol, was fear. And I definitely served fear through reaffirming false beliefs and encouraging others to think the same. I did not point people to Christ, but instead pointed them to sin, the sins of others. An argument could be made that I even encouraged them to sin.
See, fear when not placed in God is a sin. Time and time again, believers are admonished in Scripture to not be afraid. The reason we are not to be afraid is because of God’s loving and protective character.
Victim mentality may be a modern term not mentioned verbatim in Scripture, but the Bible says plenty about fear. As Christians, fear is often not our friend.
My shift from being a victim to being a victor in Christ came when I learned more about God’s character and the nature of sin. Instead of seeking the world for conventional knowledge, I turned to the Bible for wisdom. I sought God for understanding and with time, He instructed me (James 1:5).
I still struggle with fear, oftentimes day to day, though now that fear is not of the racial variety. Whenever fear pops up now, I know who to call on. Whenever I am tempted to make a victim out of myself or others, I now know how to reframe my thinking. I know how to question to get closer to the truth and encourage others to do the same.
Sometimes life is what we make it, for better or for worse. One thing I know for sure is that I don’t know everything there is to know. So, my story doesn’t stop at the perceived notion of myself being a victim. There’s more to my story, and only the author, God, knows what’s to come.
Related Resource: Listen to our FREE podcast, Faith Over Fear, where we look at areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. Listen to an episode below, and then check out all of our episodes at LifeAudio.com.
Photo Credit: GettyImages/fizkes
Aaron Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo.