Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Where would we be without Judas?

I run the risk of alienating some with this title, though it is a 'matter of fact' question, and not intended to startle, shock or annoy. This question is not to be taken lightly either, because Judas Iscariot was, after all, one of Christ's disciples and, yes, even an apostle during His earthly ministry. Not only this, but Christ loved him as He loved His other followers, and He would lay down His life for him too, if he had only accepted it. "I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost, and this was to fulfill the scriptures" (John 17:12 JB).

Yet, here's the mystery:
That someone whom Christ called, someone He loved, someone who loved (or thought he loved) Christ and even believed in Him, was capable of turning his back on the Light of the world, to go back to the darkness "spiritually called Sodom and Egypt" (Revelation 11:8), and sell the One he called his Master for a mere "30 shekels of silver" (Zechariah 11:12). How could anyone do such a thing, and why? The poetry of the Greek services blames it simply on avarice.
Could it be that simple, is it that simple, even today?

What I'm thinking about is this "spirit of Judas", if it can be named at all, and how it has followed us all through history since that Day like the proverbial Kartóphilos, the "wandering Jew," except that it's no Jew, but our Christian brother who sometimes worships with us one day and betrays us the other six.
Where would we be without him?

As a young man just born again in Christ, I was sent to work in a furniture factory where the conditions were extreme. (See Love without limits.) The man I worked under was a true Christian man and my first mentor, 32 years my senior. Working with him was an unlooked for blessing but, thank God, we worked together in an environment where co-worker abuse and even near homicidal violence often erupted. Thank God? Well, yes, thank God!

It was working there and living, sometimes, in fear of getting beaten up or ambushed on the way home (I rode the bus in those days), that began to draw my life into the Word of God, that filled the pages of the Book I carried with me everywhere every day with living words. It was living in "the world as a jungle" that opened the words of holy scripture to me, making me read about my own life in its pages so that, after so many years, I could honestly say, "my name is written on almost every page." Sometimes I still wonder, is that what is meant by saying our names are written in "the Lamb's Book of Life" (Revelation 13:8)?

Back to my question, where would we be without him?

I know a company where the good workers, the productive workers, are kept in subordinate positions and paid low wages. Periodically, they are called into closed door meetings by their supervisors, accused of misdemeanors (many of them unjustified or hearsay), and threatened with termination. Of course, these workers are never terminated, but they are bullied and humiliated so they don't dare to ask for raises or promotions, since they're conditioned by this treatment to consider themselves "lucky to have a job." This is, of course, criminal, but it's happening here in America and throughout the world every day.

What really pains me is when it is managers who are or claim to be Christians, or who are non-practicing offspring of Christian parents, that do this bullying. I remember how disappointed I was the first time a Christian employee I had hired and mentored made a conscious choice to subordinate the Truth in a situation and fall in line with the corporate cult. I knew this happened to unbelievers, but I really had a hard time accepting that Christians could act this way. That incident happened years ago, and it's been repeated since then. I've historianed my memory, and I notice the pattern has always been there, in my lifetime, and throughout history. The "spirit of Judas" is still with us. But what for?

It squeezes us out of the world system, those of us who are trying "to keep our robes from being dirtied" (Revelation 3:4). It makes us "still hold firmly to Christ's name and not disown our faith in Him"
(Revelation 2:13) even when we live or work "where Satan is enthroned". It gives us the opportunity to suffer with Christ, "to keep His commandment to endure trials" (Revelation 3:10), and thereby be kept
"safe in the time of trial which is going to come for the whole world, to test the people of the world."

Right up to the end, to the last second of the last minute of the last day, the lure of riches will continue to seduce men, even those whom Christ has called.

"It is not those who say to me, 'Lord, Lord,' who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven."
Matthew 7:21

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