Whenever you turn on the television, there always seems to be some fictional detective or legal team working to bring a perpetrator to justice. The casts of these urban dramas often include cliché characters like overworked police officers, peculiar judges, and burdened attorneys.
At the center of the drama are the victim and the perpetrator. If an innocent person is falsely labeled as the perpetrator, they are the scapegoat. Sometimes we viewers relate most to the eyewitnesses to the crime, the bystanders in the story. Bystanders often know enough details to intervene and prevent the crime, or they know enough information to bring perpetrators to justice.
Bystanders stay on the fringes of the story. They might irritate us because, while we can’t intervene in the story, they often can. After a long stretch of watching Job’s accusers, God moves from bystander to an active role. God stands with Job in solidarity over against his accusers. Unfortunately, God’s silence had allowed Job’s friends to become his accusers. Only when the bystander chooses sides can the story come full circle.
The drama of accusers, perpetrators, victims, bystanders, and scapegoats happens daily, and painfully, in our lives. We see these dynamics play out in our offices, schools, families, and churches. May God’s role in standing for Job inspire us to care enough to tell the truth, resolve conflict, and move the story to where it needs to be.
Reflect on a time when you saw a scapegoat identified. How did you respond? What makes it so complicated and dangerous for us to leave our role as bystanders and identify with the accused?
Champion of the marginalized and outcast who talked with the woman at the well, endured the Cross, and still stands by our side when we see or become scapegoats, grant us courage to be your presence in solidarity with others. Amen.