When Jesus sent His disciples out two by two, I wonder who got paired with Judas. I wonder who it was who healed, and preached, and cast out demons by Judas’ side.
I’ve never really thought of it before, but these men were together for three years, on a journey that would change not only their lives, but the course of human history. These were the men who would start the Church, who would eventually give their lives in defense of the Gospel. And they all went through boot camp together; they all witnessed the genesis of Christianity together.
My brother just went through Air Force training and he told me that he made friends in his barracks that he’ll have for the rest of his life. You don’t go through that kind of intense training without forming bonds.
Imagine what the disciples must have thought when it was Judas who left the table during the Last Supper. When Jesus said one of them would betray Him, they all asked, ‘Is it I?’ not ‘Yep, it’s Judas, isn’t it?’ They were surprised by his betrayal. They were surprised to see him leading the Roman cohort into the garden.
Most of us have received a nasty surprise like that from someone we considered a fellow soldier. It would seem that no one can wound quite like a Christian can. We don’t have to study the social media very hard to discern that the world’s opinion of us is that we are all judgmental, self-righteous hypocrites.
And this turns people off to the church. In fact, I know Christians who have left the church because they’ve been hurt by other Christians. They even have a term for this: church hurt.
Everywhere you look, you’ll see people who do not want to serve Christ because they know a Christian who has sinned.
May I just say… this is such a sad, weak excuse.
When Judas betrayed Christ, did the disciples stop following Him?
Well, yes, actually.
They took Judas’s betrayal as a personal threat and they ran for their lives, for their own comfort and self-preservation. And by doing so, they betrayed Jesus as well.
They ended up participating in the very sin they condemned.
But in the end, all eleven remaining disciples continued to follow Christ. Why? Because they followed Christ. Because it is all about Jesus. Because Christianity is all about having a relationship with Jesus.
Judas’s betrayal hurt, I have no doubt. But his sin didn’t make Jesus less worthy of devotion. Leaving Jesus because of Judas wouldn’t make any logical sense.
I know it can be argued that the actions of a misbehaving child reflect poorly on the parents. Following Christ should spark an obvious life change and when it doesn’t, we’re tempted to think it won’t work for us either.
But anyone who’s ever dealt with children (ages 0-99) knows that when free-will kicks in, all bets are off. It doesn’t make sense to follow Jesus one day and wander off the next because of the actions of our brothers and/or sisters, not when the prize we’re after is a relationship with our Father.
Please don’t get me wrong, I know it hurts. I’ve been hurt by people in the church and I have dear friends and family who have been hurt by people in the church. But that’s when we should run to Jesus, not away from Him. He’s the one with the comfort we long for and the forgiveness we need, for ourselves and others.
Those people’s sins are more against God than us anyways, and I’m sure that if we each dig deep, we’ll see sins in our own lives that were just as shameful. In fact, it could be that we’re mirroring the very sins they’ve committed: judging the judgmental, gossiping about gossips, lying about liars.
Being a Christian isn’t about being perfect, and it isn’t about having a safe haven full of love and rainbows and acceptance where we will never get hurt.
Being a Christian is about being in love with Jesus. It’s about loving and following Christ and loving those He’s commanded us to love (*everyone*). No matter what they’ve done to us.
Let’s take hurt out of the church by keeping our focus on Jesus.