Sunday, November 22, 2015

You, Sir, Are an Imposter!

When my son was about fifteen he got a job at a local auto repair shop. I would drop him off for work, and he would give me the usual peck on my cheek -- yes, I did say "usual." Steven never had a problem showing me affection or declaring his love for me; I admired his boldness no matter who was around. But things were about to change. In only a matter of weeks, my son had his license, had his own wheels, and was nothing more than a memory in the lives of his family. He returned, briefly, but he was like a caged animal; he wanted to be somewhere else, and would keep running off until he was. I understood some of the things that were going on in his life, but when did we lose our relationship? How long had he been planning this? When had he become an imposter? It felt like the ultimate betrayal.

So often I have contemplated the pain Jesus felt when Judas placed that kiss on Him; I wonder what was going through His mind. But more so, I wonder what was going through Judas' mind. Judas was part of Jesus' inner circle; he walked with Him, talked with Him, ate with Him. And don't forget this guy had been given the "authority to cast out all demons and heal all diseases." How did this happen?

Selling out the King of Kings is definitely one of the "biggies," but Judas' deception was merely a reflection of his heart. Judas was a lover of money. Who of us hasn't gotten a little "unbiblical" when we've gotten ripped off, or coveted the lifestyles of the rich and famous? cheated on income taxes? fudged a time sheet? handed our kid a coupon and a five spot to go stand in the other line? Being a money lover was a chink in Judas' armor, he would never allow Jesus to buff out.

Judas was disappointed. Three years with Jesus, and there'd been no revolution -- at least, not the kind Judas expected. They were penniless, itinerant, reviled by the religious elite; this is not what Judas had signed on for. Anyone ever disappointed you? It can be pretty tough to get over; especially when you've invested time, reputation, money, hope. You might find yourself consumed by disappointment at the price of your testimony, or your prayer life, or your attendance at church. Disappointment had become Judas' justification for the action he was about to take.

Judas was mired in the belief he was alone. "No one will understand." "No one else seems to be questioning their decision." "No one could ever forgive what I've done." Judas was never alone; we know Peter stood with him that night: only a short time later, distancing himself from his Savior for the sake of his reputation and physical well-being. Jesus went to the cross for the very purpose of forgiveness. Have you ever fallen into a snare called "shame?" Shame leaves us feeling alone and unworthy: of forgiveness; of our destiny in Christ. It can be a tough place to move past, and can turn lies into truth.

Judas, I'm certain, knew what he was doing was wrong; I am not saying, "Hey, that Judas -- he wasn't such a bad guy." What I'm saying is that we should never distance ourselves from him. We have all been imposters: smiling through pain; complimenting someone on their leathery pot roast; going through the motions on a Sunday morning. But being less than authentic -- even for a moment -- can cause us to harm others and ourselves. 

How much better off would we be if we were all just honest with each other? What kind of pressure might be eliminated in our lives if we never felt the need to be imposters? What kind of good could be done if we stopped pretending and just admitted we've been there, too?

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