When some stranger takes exception to something I’ve written and emails me to tell me I am an idiot or a child abuser, it hurts. When my kids tell me I’m not a good father, it hurts. When my wife tells me I’ve let her down at times, it hurts. The claims may be referentially true or false but that is scarcely relevant. Whatever the case, they construct a certain reality, and make a certain state of affairs come into being, whether I like it or not. As one of Catherine Tate’s characters would say, `Am I bovvered?’ Well, if I’m honest, yes, at some level I am, even by the most absurd and obviously untrue accusations. After all, somebody out there believes that some silly accusation is the case for them, it is a reality; and knowing this, I find that their reality impinges on mine. To call me an idiot may be idiotic; but it can still make me feel like one.
edit: Can’t risk you skipping the conclusion
In other words, others might tell me I am a failure, an idiot, a clown, evil, incompetent, vicious, dangerous, pathetic etc., and these words are not just descriptive: they have a certain power to make me these things, in the eyes of others and even in my own eyes, as self-doubt creeps in and the Devil whispers in my ear. But the greatness of Luther’s Protestantism lies in this: God’s speaks louder, and his word is more powerful. You may call me a liar, and you speak truth, for I have lied; but if God declares me righteous, then my lies and your insult are not the final word, nor the most powerful word. I have peace in my soul because God’s word is real reality. That’s why I need to read the Bible each day, to hear the word preached each week, to come to God in prayer, and to hear words of grace from other brothers and sisters as I seek to speak the same to them. Only as God speaks his word to me, and as I hear that word in faith, is my reality transformed and do the insults of others, of my own sinful nature, and of the evil one himself, cease to constitute my reality. The words of my enemies, external and internal, might be powerful for a moment, like a firework exploding against the night sky; but the Word of the Lord is stronger, brighter, and lasts forever.