9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. – Matthew 24: 9-10
In our last “Prospective” issue we considered Jesus’ prediction that in the future “many will fall away,” that is, leave the faith. But the sentence doesn’t end there. Also many once professing Christ-followers will betray other Christ-followers… and hate them while they’re at it.
What an idea, betrayal. When we think about it, we are amazed and appalled that our Captain and Founder was betrayed, moreover that it was a betrayal that set in motion the events that led to His crucifixion. Let’s get the marketing department onto handling that embarrassment.
Yes, embarrassment, because the sense of weakness suffuses betrayal. You didn’t see it coming and were taken by surprise (although in His case our Lord did); you lacked what it took to engender loyalty; you were probed over time and summarily rejected. Not just not chosen; rejected!
Looking back from the betrayal, all your history with the betrayer(s) is called into question – maybe we didn’t have a good time, maybe there never was a friendship. Maybe. You’re left with lots of feeble maybes.
How is it possible that anything close to a real friendship could end in such hatred?! Yes, hatred!
Indeed, the second-guessing makes sense, since the betrayer uses inside knowledge gained over the years against you – didn’t Judas just know that Jesus would be in that Garden? In this relationships, what you thought was gain, you now have to count as loss.
And who’s to say what you’re now counting as gain isn’t also actually loss? The effects of betrayal seep into other, current relationships. You find yourself looking over your shoulder.
Betrayals occur because some advantage is spotted, and, importantly, it’s not attached to you. I’ll be better off shifting my allegiance from you. You’re not working for me. 30 pieces of silver work for me.
And the actual act of betrayal – how slight it can be and still do the business! Have you come to betray the Son of Man with a kiss? A little lie, or just a deceitful suggestion, even perhaps a mood cast around someone, and a life is brought down. He’s not a real patriot. He doesn’t love people. He’s never taken the science seriously. Betrayals expose how tenuous things were all along.
Yes, betrayal is quite pathetic. And in the foolish wisdom of God, the weakness of a betrayal lies at the heart of the Gospel. Also in the foolish wisdom of God, the chronicles of both the church universal and local churches are filled with episodes of treachery backed by thorough dislike. And this pattern of hateful betrayals among God’s people will be unrelenting until the last days of history.
Have a nice day. And remember there’s unforeseen joy in the fire. “Sometimes a light surprises…”