Thursday, March 1, 2012


All of us have heard the phrase, ‘kick the dog.’ It is an expression that is most often used when someone has had a bad day. Upon returning home you find an overly friendly canine that meets you at the door. Bowser is running around, jumping, slobbering, barking…. excited to see you after several hours of separation. So, how do you respond? What do you do? Do you pick up the dog and talk baby talk? Do you get down and wrestle with him? Do you scratch him behind the ears? Do you turn him over to rub his tummy? This is usually not your first instinct. Instead your reflex may be to figuratively [if not literally] ‘kick the dog’. Now, we are not talking about dog abuse here…. just a gentle push with the foot. You are not in the mood. In that moment you just do not feel like giving or receiving affection.

What we are talking about is a fairly common delayed emotional response to negative stimulus. It is a psychological devise called ‘projection.’ We project our frustration with someone else, or with some hard/unpleasant situations that may have happened to us earlier in the day, onto Rover or [worse] onto a family member who may be sharing life with us. Strangers that are rude without cause, a server who is abrupt, people who overreact to authority figures from police to pastors, moms who are impatient with their children in the grocery store, children who throw fits in public, adults who compose and send vindictive e-mails are to name just a few of the indicators of negative ‘projection’ taking place in real time. ‘Projection’ is generally not a good thing. It is generally a character flaw, an emotional weakness, a moment of immaturity…. but not always.

There is at least one illustration of positive ‘redemptive projection’ …. a time when projection resulted in salvation. In Isaiah 53:6ff, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” The Lord God projected our sins onto Jesus. He was sinless, innocent and without fault. Yet, he became the one who was oppressed and afflicted for us. He was crushed and caused to suffer as ‘he bore the sins of many and made intercession for the transgressors.’ Our sins were projected onto Jesus, on the cross and he became sin for us that we might become children of God.

Pray with me…. Thank you Father for taking the punishment for our sin. You projected our sin, guilt and shame upon your Son, our Savior, on the cross. He who knew no sin became sin for us. And, because of it, we are free indeed. We thank and praise you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Pastor Ken

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