We call people passive-aggressive so casually these days, it’s likely we’re no longer sure what it means. Just as guerrilla warfare is an indirect way of opposing a much greater force, passive-aggression is an indirect way of getting what we want or expressing anger and frustration without directly confronting another person. But where guerrilla warfare is a conscious tactic to turn weakness into strength, passive-aggression is usually an unconscious expression of a person’s perceived powerlessness.
People who don’t believe they can make significant choices in life are naturally passive-aggressive in their interactions with others. From chronic lateness, forgetfulness, or losing things to constant complaining, blaming, keeping relationships chaotic and ambiguous, a person who feels victimized finds passive ways forward. Belief systems feed the passive-victim narrative: the belief in an all-powerful God, can make us feel like cosmic victims of fate or destiny, that God is the only actor with a real choice. A belief in original sin—that we are born hopelessly flawed and separate from God—makes us theological victims with Jesus as the only actor who can save us.
But Jesus is showing us a way of life that is the opposite of passive: a partnership with God in which God has already acted on our behalf, given everything there is to receive, leaving only the action of our own hearts to accept and live the reality of such connection and abundance. The opposite of victimhood.
A victim is never present, always reliving the past or imagining salvation in the future. A victim lives in unforgiveness, seeing no choice in the present to create change in circumstance or attitude. A victim is always waiting, never arrives. Jesus is all about arrival: the waiting is over, the abundance of kingdom is here and now, immediate and intimate. There is no possible place for passivity or victimhood in such a reality.
Take a look around. Are you waiting for something? Then your heart is not yet acting along Jesus’ Way.