â€œâ€˜Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothersâ€™â€ (Luke 22:31=32).
All of us have a betrayer. A person who knows our inner workings and wounds us deeply. Jesus understands our wound of betrayal intimately.
He was surrounded by betrayers.
Pharisees held the prophecies of His coming in their hands but denied Jesus was the Son of God. Crowds of followers who witnessed miracle after miracle, raised their fists in hatred when it appeared Jesus lost favor. And his friends? There wasnâ€™t a single disciple left in the garden to stand with Jesus as he was arrested.
I too am a betrayer of Jesus.
I knew as a little girl that he was real, walked the earth, was God in flesh, but I rejected Him because He did not meet my expectations. How could a good God allow me to be abused? How could a good God withhold solid friendships? How could a God who cared allow so much evil in the world?
Yet, knowing every last one of those who followed Jesus would betray him, Jesus chose them. Knowing his mother and brothers would laugh at him and reject the gospel he still chose to be born into a family. Jesus knew I would reject him, and yet he still called me, loved me, and never stopped being present in my life.
When I am lax in dying to self, which I have been over the past few months, I am tempted to turn away from God. Two weeks ago God placed a question squarely in my soul. My insomnia and pain were unbearable and I was tempted to throw in the towel on God. He asked, Will you betray me?
I confessed my bitterness, stopped playing the victim of humanity, and submitted to His will. In one desperate cry, my oppressive insomnia was shattered, my attitude was lighter, my whole household noted the transformation. Joy and peace entered our home.
Any person who supports us in ministry is susceptible to the same sinful nature that Peter, James, John and the rest of the disciples displayed. We are human, we are tempted to go our own way, fall asleep when others need us to keep watch and hurt each other with false beliefs. Are you prepared for your betrayer?
PREPARED, not paranoid. Looking for people to hurt us requires distance, fear, and overthinking every action of another person. Preparing for letdowns in relationships requires love, sacrifice, keeping no record of wrongs fasting, praying, surrendering to God’s will, and discernment. This dying to self is nothing short of physical death. Jesus almost died before the cross. He really needed the support of his friends.
There was no one willing to walk into the garden, stay awake, and die on a cross with him. In my 44 years of living, I have observed pastors, deacons, lay leaders and children all fall away from following Christ. There is not a single one of us that is not vulnerable to this temptation given the right environment. Cheat or lose your job. Commit adultery or stay in a loveless marriage. Harden my heart after losing my son, or stand firm, knowing Christ will use my sorrow to save others. We all have betrayal moments.
God made a way for us to turn like Simon, confess our betrayal and love each other as he loved us first. Stronger, more resilient because we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the forgiveness, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Thank you, Lord!