I’m glad Jesus loves me even if I betrayed Him. I still betray Him sometimes. I almost did again the other day but by the grace of God I had enough guts to say something.
My friend Aaron and I were at Wal-Mart after a concert several weeks ago. We were back in the electronics department looking for screen protectors for our iPods. While we were there, a portly and heavily tattooed guy walked up beside us and was looking at some stuff close by. I don’t know if the prices were too high or what, but I heard him use Jesus’ name like a swear word.
I don’t like a lot of cussing. I can tolerate it a little more though, when someone isn’t using God’s name in vain. Some people would consider the F-word more offensive, but I don’t. There’s something about someone using God or Jesus’ name for a cuss word that makes me pretty mad.
Right away, I knew I should say something, but I didn’t really want to. I struggled with myself for a little while. I wanted to but I couldn’t quite get myself to do it right away. Eventually, I had to say something because I knew I would feel like complete crap for the rest of the evening if not longer, for being such a coward and not standing up for Jesus.
He was just walking away when I said to him, “I heard you use the name of Jesus. Do you know Him?”
He looked at me like I had three eyes or something and sort of shrugged. “Yeah,” he mumbled.
“Well don’t use His name like a swearword,” I said. “He’s my friend.”
He sort of looked at the ground, repeated the oath, and walked away.
I felt a little strange, but was sure I had done the right thing. I also thought maybe I had begun to make up for all the times that I hadn’t said anything. I used to go to the skatepark quite a bit and if you don’t know, most skaters curse almost as often as they breathe. For some of them, the F-bomb is pretty much the only adjective they know. Anyway, way too many times, I felt like it was something I would just have to live with rather than say anything and face possible ridicule. I felt like Judas or Peter.
I’ve been thinking recently about U2’s song Until The End Of The World. It was interesting, and also quite powerful, when I figured out what it meant. It was so obvious as well, that I was really surprised I hadn’t seen its implications sooner. The lyrics talk about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, and Bono writes it from Judas’ perspective.
When I first heard the song I thought it was simply talking about a person confessing his betrayal of his lover. And it was. Only it was talking about Jesus as our Lover, rather than your average relationship. I was thinking about this and what it meant. We all betray our Lover at times, and it must really break His heart.
The only real problem I have with the song is that it almost makes it sound like Judas got things turned the right way in the end, which he didn’t. He knew he had done wrong. I don’t think he thought through what consequences his actions would have. He probably didn’t think Jesus would be killed. Instead of making things right, he decided he couldn’t live with himself and committed suicide.
There is, however, truth in the last phrase of the song. This is Judas speaking, “You, you said you’d wait ’til the end of the world.” I believe Jesus would have taken Judas back if he would have confessed his sin and turned his life around. I guess he thought killing himself was the easy way out.
Then, more recently, I reread part of Donald Miller’s Searching For God Knows What. He demonstrated the difference between our hearts and our minds. If my relationship with Jesus is little more than a set of rules, my mind can be more easily tricked into sinning.
Don said that we need to think of relationship with Jesus more like a marriage. In marriage, usually the reason people cheat on each other, is because their love wasn’t real in the first place, or it grows cold.
Take this example. Let’s say I’m dating a girl. When we go out for dates, I’m constantly keeping my eyes open for other girls to date just to make sure there’s not something better out there. I think most of you would say I have serious commitment problems and should probably quit so I can get some things figured out before I date anyone else. I don’t know of too many girls who would be content with a relationship like that. And if they were, I hope I wouldn’t be dating them.
I wonder how Jesus feels when we are in a relationship with Him, and we keep flirting with the world and thinking about ways that we can maybe get hooked up with it. Sometimes our actions say to Jesus that He’s not good enough. We are supposed to be in love with Him, but we’re actually trying to date the world at the same time. That must really hurt Him.
Like he pointed out in his book, it gives sin a totally different feel if we think of it as actually “cheating” on our relationship with Jesus. Jesus told us, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” The barometer of our love for the Savior is how well we obey.
If our hearts are involved with Jesus, if we truly love Him, our minds will have a harder time tricking us into sinning. Take the “in love feeling” as an example.
Marriage and love are not very rational if you think about it for long. I’m not married, but it seems to me you sacrifice quite a bit. Some of my friends and I were talking once, and I think it was my friend Shane, who said he thinks God gave us that “in love” feeling to help us get past our minds because rationally, it just doesn’t make sense.
People don’t like change that much. At least I don’t. A lot of us, I think, would be too freaked out at the prospect of marriage and life long commitment if we wouldn’t have love to make us do irrational things. Most people I talk to say it’s worth it. I think it would be cool to be married sometime, but it still freaks me out.
So you see, once the heart is in it, it’s over, so to speak. I think that’s why the plan of Salvation is relational at its core. God built us for relationships. He knows that it really doesn’t mean much if our hearts are not involved. That’s why all the other stuff we often equate with spirituality, however valid it may be, doesn’t mean squat if our love for the Lord isn’t there.
When God created us He didn’t want robots. He wanted people that would love Him back. If we are doing the things He says just because we are afraid He will punish us if we don’t, we are completely missing the point. That’s one thing I discovered after I was Christian for a while. There is so much more to it than the things we see. I can actually have a working relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Wow!
Even when we betray Jesus, He wants us back. Judas thought he was too bad to be taken back by Jesus. The most immoral and criminal person in the world, is loved deeply by Jesus. He wants to have this love relationship with us all, no matter what we’ve done. Don’t deny Him that. He created us, then died for us to bring us back. Is there a more appropriate response to such love, than all-out devotion?