I’ve read a lot of books complaining about treatment people have received from the church. I can’t say that any of the poor treatment was justified. I doubt it was. People hurt people. I’ve also done a lot of figuring out how to not be the way hurters have been so that my church can be “successful”. My conclusion is that this too is deep into the sinful taproot of desire for mastery and dominion by using the things of God.
I preach on Judas this week and the deal he cuts to get Jesus alone so the religious authorities can safely arrest him and execute him. Why did Judas sell Jesus out? Was Judas always in it for the money? possibly. Love of money is the most consistent character flaw that gets linked to Judas in the Bible. Did Jesus first sign on for discipleship for money? Maybe. I also suspect that if Judas where a modern and if you asked Judas to justify this betrayal he would have possibly have played the victim. Judas didn’t leave Jesus, Jesus left or betrayed Judas and Judas was just giving Jesus what he deserved. I would be surprised by this in any way.
One of the deepest, darkest traps of sin is self-pity and the harm that we justify on the basis of it.
It is to me important to reflect on the fact that Jesus’ popularity was always flimsy. The Galilean crowd was fickle, as was the Jerusalem crowd. It seems quite clear that if Jesus wished to hold the crowd, wield the crowd, and shape the crowd into his ambitious tool he easily could have. This dream is a deep and strong one within us and there are currently man in Egypt and Libya who are struggling mightily to do so today, as is every presidential aspirant in America today. Winning the crowd has long been a very useful path to wealth, power, fame and significance.
Jesus does not despise the crowd, but understands it, and walks another path where a mob will demand his execution and opt rather for Barabbas, a revolutionary who know how to get things done.
One of the church’s greatest mysteries is its ability to grow in diverse cultures and languages. This regularly troubles theologians because heresies are common along this way, but the church itself seems to always persevere through it. Endurance is one of Christianity’s great wonders (Lk 21:19).
At some point you need to make your peace with who you are and what you’ve been called to do. pvk