I’m having to learn a rather crucial life lesson that never seems to end: it’s not personal. Often, what I think is a personal attack actually is not personal at all. The reason this is so vital is because you can go about wounded by things that have nothing to do with you personally. And even though it feels deeply personal, in actuality, it’s just not.
Not Personal: A World Gone Wild
Looking around this world, frustration and aggravation are on the rise. People are handling disagreements in violent ways. People take everything in a deeply personal way and are offended about everything. It’s not just people taking a stand; it’s entitled, personal rage. For example, during my lifetime, I’ve never seen the outright rage we’re seeing in our political primaries. It’s shocking and looks to only get worse.
And remember my post about the man randomly screaming at me when I was dropping off our deposit in the night depository? Clearly something else was going on other than my deposit and me. This man’s lashing out was based on something deeply personal with him and was not actually about me at all. I was just an innocent bystander, there to receive his fit of rage. It felt deeply personal because it was directed at me, but at second glance, it was clear it had nothing to do with me at all. His reaction to what was happening was disproportionate to the amount of rage he poured out.
Not Personal: My Temptation
My personal temptation is to receive another’s aggression toward me. I have to fight to not take it personally, because it’s actually directed at my person. It feels deeply personal! But is it? I don’t think anything is personal when you’re Christ’s.
If it’s true that it’s no longer “I but Christ” who lives, then nothing is personal. This is either great delusion or complete liberation! To live without taking things personally would be such freedom for my body, soul and spirit. Talk about uncompromising focus. If nothing was personal, you could live free of man’s influence. Neither their disdain nor affirmation could sway me from my focus on Christ, because nothing would be about me.
One thing I’ve experienced in taking offenses personally is that it clouds my vision. Instead of holding steady as I run my race with Christ, I’m wrestling about, entangled on the ground. And with what? It’s something that has nothing to do with me. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me!
Another repercussion of taking it personally is that I take it internally. This has never been good for my body or emotions. It wounds me deeply. Emotionally I am bound and physically I am scarred. HULK SMASH! This seems extreme but try to remember back to the last offense you took personally. It hurt, didn’t it?
It’s Not Personal, It’s Christ’s to Handle
Taking in something that is not personal is like taking up an offense for another. When you take up an offense on behalf of someone else, you have no grace to face it or power to deal with it. You are in essence powerless because it is not yours to deal with. In the same way, taking in something that is not personal as if it were personal just frustrates. You haven’t the grace or power to deal with it, because it isn’t against you. The power we do have is to let Christ face it and handle it through us. It’s an offense against Him and He can deal with it.
You might say, “But John, there’s a person in my life that thinks I’m ugly and says so. They don’t like my face! Isn’t this in every way an offense against me?” No, and here’s why. If Christ has bought me, I am owned by Him. This means all of me belongs to Him. I am no longer my own, nor is my life my possession. If I was truly crucified with Christ, the Bible says, “It is not I but Christ.”
This means that nothing is personal because I was purchased as a package deal! All of me is His — “I” no longer am. Offenses are not about me anymore because Jesus is me!
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life, which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Galatians 2:20 NASB
One caveat: For “it’s not personal” to be true, we have to be “not I but Christ” in actuality. More on this later.