Kiss? Beware!

I’ve always found myself getting into trouble for not knowing when to keep quiet. For saying too much, being too blunt, not practicing better diplomacy. And yes, I admit, as I wrote last week, it would have been better to not have spoken at times, and to have remained silent. I’ll own my indiscretions along the way with a genuine acknowledgement of my tendencies and failings.

Part of my problem has been that when I witness injustice, duplicity, or hypocrisy, something rises up within me that will not be tamed. Eventually, no matter how much I try to keep it closed, my mouth opens and words of protest, anger, or defiance burst forth. The results have often not been good. People are offended, the status quo is disturbed, and of course there is offense scattered like mud. Even tackling this topic in a blog is probably not the wisest because following Jesus in this chaotic world is best kept in church and bible study. I just don’t know how to ignore the Jesus of history who never lived such a sanitized life – cloistered and safe.

I’m deeply depressed and dismayed by what is playing out among our American friends in their leadership. I don’t really care about political parties but it is sad to witness how complicated and cowardly people (who should know better) become – when justice and truth are risky or unpopular. It’s not rocket science. Leadership comes with responsibility, owning your stuff is part of the journey, not blaming others for ‘everything’ shows integrity. I remember hearing an interview with a well known Canadian politician from Alberta some years back. He said quite proudly, “I listen to see where people want to go and then I get out in front and lead them there.”

Such leadership is without substance or courage. It is self-serving and fickle, more of a chameleon than a Braveheart. There is no separation between secular and sacred in the Christian gospel. Everything involves God and nothing is out of bounds. Of course how Christians engage in any matter has often been part of the problem more than a helpful solution. Mainly because people cherry pick the Christian teaching that suits them and then use those bits as political weapons to beat truth into another rather than to bless. It’s easier to criticize and condemn than to speak with tough love and remain humble. It’s safer to withdraw and remain silent than to declare truth where it’s awkward and inconvenient. Such as now: we witness political expediency, moral genocide, blind eyes from blind guides, and an orgy of Judas kisses.

Jesus shared what would be his last supper with his dearest friends, his disciples. He never avoided truth because he was afraid to offend. So it was – on that night gathered around bread and wine facing frightening times that threatened violence and massive uncertainty. They had gathered from the dusty streets of Jerusalem and no-one had offered to wash the feet of those assembled as they stepped across the threshold. Normally a slave would have performed the task but none was present. They’d already shared the meal when Jesus rose from his seat, wrapped a towel around his waist and proceeded tp perform the foot-washing himself. The disciples were embarrassed, Peter protested. Jesus was tough in his insistence and finished the task with grace. Did he smile and share thoughts and comments with each one as he cradled their feet in his lap? Did he encourage and affirm each one as he cleaned their toes while they wished they’d offered earlier? Did he spend longer when it came to Judas? We’ll never know.

The point is, Jesus’ leadership never demanded position, privilege, or perks. He had no problem getting his hands dirty, and if his actions caused offense then so be it. After the foot-washing he told his friends a truth no-one wanted to hear. “One of you will betray me.” They were incredulous. They all protested. In fact it was two, and perhaps all, who would eventually betray him. Fleeing in fear, publicly denying any association with him, or leading religious leaders to Gethsemane for thirty pieces of silver. Perhaps in the end all those actions were a variation on a theme. But we remember the kiss of Judas.

Judas betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders for personal gain. He couldn’t make sense of some of what Jesus said and did. Instead of waiting and trusting the character of the man, he jumped ship. It culminated in him leading an armed group to Gethsemane to capture Jesus by force. Judas identified Jesus by embracing him and kissing him on the cheek. He could have taken Jesus aside perhaps days earlier and asked Jesus to help him with his doubts, his anger, his confusion. Instead he bottled up his offense and took action himself. As so often happens, when events unfolded he was proved wrong – but the dye was cast and both he and Jesus would die for very different reasons.

As Jesus faced his persecutors they ‘trumped up’ (interesting phrase in these days) charges to accomplish their agenda, preconceptions, biases, and love of political and spiritual power. Between the Sanhedrin and Pilate there was collusion and agreement. Their mutual self-interest was far greater than any moral integrity or servant leadership placing the welfare of others above their personal positions of authority.

Eventually, after the magnificently defiant resurrection, Jesus appeared to a redeemed and courageous prostitute, to his unworthy friends, and to a host of others. The Christian church was launched by ordinary people who at the end of the day were perhaps more trustworthy with all their flaws than the professionals.

Human nature has not changed too much over the ages. I’ve been reviewing a site commemorating those who died in the World Wars. It’s always moving to see the photographs and hear the stories of those who died so young in the hopes of creating a better world for others. It’s easy, popular and right to give them a standing ovation and ‘never forget their courage and sacrifice’. And yet, we who follow, are often unabashedly unwilling to do the same. Perhaps it’s harder in times of peace where the battles are more subtle and the enemy camouflaged and insidious…. masquerading as an angel of light in all manner of guises. We’ve heard so often, for evil to triumph good people need only do nothing.

Surely we can do better? And I’m not pointing fingers south of the border. ‘Them is us’ in so many circumstances. Judas kissed Jesus as a member of the disciples, the early Christian church. Betrayal wasn’t ‘out there among the heathen’, it was among us who believed.

The solution? I believe it is simple but frequently challenging. Be authentic, seek truth with humility, worship no other human saviors in the flesh, be servants, love unconditionally – more so when there’s no personal benefit, serve, sacrifice, and leave the rest to God. It’s called being salt and light. We’re in desperate need of men and women to live like this in our day – in the church and in the world. Those who truly believe Jesus’ words, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” He’s the only one who can do a work in us that will eventually flow though us to make a genuine difference. Hope has a name……

Hope has a name – his name is Jesus (River Valley Worship)

here is a song, I know it well
A melody that’s never failed
On mountains high and valleys low
My soul will rest, my confidence, in You alone

Hope has a name, His name is Jesus
My Savior’s cross has set the sinner free
Hope has a name, His name is Jesus
Oh, Christ be praised, I have victory

There is a light, salvation’s flame
Christ undefeated, trampled the grave (come on)
See now the cross, be lifted high
The light has come, the light has won
Behold the Christ (sing it)

Hope has a name, His name is Jesus
My Savior’s cross has set the sinner free
Hope has a name, His name is Jesus
Oh, Christ be praised, I have victory (we say)

Hope has a name, His name is Jesus
My Savior’s cross has set the sinner free
Hope has a name, His name is Jesus
Oh, Christ be praised,…

John Cox

Christian Author and Counsellor

One comment

  • I thank God for the burning passion He has placed on your heart. With your well chosen words I can feal my spirit stirring with desire to be counted when it counts. Many times I have not conducted my sense of injustice and wrongs well. I’m thankful that I have known you for many years and thankful for your no b/s approach to difficult times or problems. This has been a very good read for me and the timing perfect. I am looking forward to being able to visit in person. Please let me know if you have any trips to the valley and we can go for a coffee or?

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