I DO NOT WANT SOME CHRISTIANS covering my back.
I don’t want them coming to my rescue.
I don’t want them helping me in a crisis.
They will not cover my six. They will run from my attackers. They will hide in a crisis.
They are reliably unreliable and dependably undependable.
I much prefer the support of some people I know who have no faith in God at all.
They behave more like Jesus than some people I know who call themselves Christians.
I can’t possibly be the only one who experiences these kinds of people in my life.
Surely there are others who have noticed that some people outside the faith are more compassionate, loving, and reliable than some insiders who are mean-spirited, bitter, and selfish.
I’m bringing this up because I’m teaching Sunday’s Bible study about Judas betraying Jesus. The story shows up in John 13.
What strikes me about this story is the hurt that Jesus experiences. He knows it’s going to happen. He predicts it. He even sends Judas on his way to arrange Jesus’ arrest that night: “Hurry and do what you’re going to do” (John 13:27). Crucifixion to follow in the morning.
When Jesus started telling his disciples that one of them would betray him, “Jesus became visibly upset” (John 13:21).
That got me to thinking about betrayals I’ve experienced among fellow followers of Jesus.
“Visibly upset” is a good description of how I reacted. It’s a normal, healthy response.
If we pass it off as no big deal, then the relationship itself was no big deal and the people we trusted weren’t important to us.
But it is a big deal. And the people were important to us.
The question after the betrayal is, “What do we do now?”
Well, in the story of Jesus, Judas hanged himself from a tree, and apparently when the branch broke his guts “gushed out,” (Acts 1:18)
That sounds like a good plan.
It’s my gut reaction to what should happen to my betrayers.
But I’m wondering what Jesus would have done if Judas had lived, and had remained intransigent in betrayal – refusing to admit that what he did was treacherous.
I’m not sure.
I know what I do. Or at least what I try to do.
It’s something my Grandpap taught me. Every day after working in the coal mines Grandpap had to walk home on a dirt road. He had to pass by the house of a relative who would sometimes come out on the front porch and say unkind things to him.
Grandpap raised a hand in a wave and he kept walking.
Be polite, keep your mouth shut, and walk away.
In the story of Jesus that followed – in his trial, execution, and burial – the person who came to his defense was someone who seemed like an outsider: Joseph of Arimathea. He was actually someone in the process of becoming a follower of Jesus. But he hadn’t outed himself.
He’s the one who put his reputation and probably his livelihood as a tradition-minded Jew at risk when he “asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body,” (John 19:38).
There are times in life, I think, when it’s okay to put our faith in people who don’t seem to put their faith in God.
Sometimes, those people have more of Jesus in them than they realize – and certainly more of Jesus than the betrayers who only claim the name but don’t live it.
John 13 is a downer; at least when we focus on the betrayal of those we trusted. Not a fun topic. But it’s one many Christians have experienced.
After the betrayal, we may feel visibly upset and abandoned. But we should never feel alone.
We know who we follow. I get to teach that chapter, too. John 14: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
For more on Christians who disappoint us
For more on the Gospel of John
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New blog subscribers who win books this week
- Bob Estand
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I give away free books each week. Normally I give them to randomly selected subscribers to my free blog and quarterly newsletter. But this time, I picked the two most recent subscribers.
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I know this little saying is cliche, but it is true:
“Just because a mouse jumps into a cookie jar, doesn’t make them a cookie!”
It seems to me that the Jars are getting larger, there are more mice, and God help us — no more cookies!
Stephen M. Miller
Happily, we know a cookie when we see one. And we can certainly smell a rat.
So true, I’ve seen alot of those around that claim christianity, but no fruit what so ever.