Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You betray me with a kiss?

How do you deal with the sting of betrayal? What is the appropriate response when you have been "stabbed" in the back by people that were near and dear to your heart? I have pondered these questions and many more over the last few months, while attempting to convince myself that nobody has had it as tough as I have. Then I visited one of my favorite blogs only to have my "illusion" shattered by a revelation: This feeling of betrayal is ubiquitous among pastors.

Betrayal comes as part of the package for those who are privileged to serve others through the pastoral ministry. In fact, it is the pastor's burden. On the blog I'm talking about, the question was raised as to what you are willing to "give up" so that you can "go up." The issue of giving up reputation was raised, and to a man (and woman) every one of the respondents had a horror story to tell about relationships that had gone sour and turned on them as a result of ministry, and about slanderous things that had been said about them. No matter how hard you try to prepare yourself for the pain of these rejections, it is often harder in practice to walk through than anything you ever imagined. One of the respondents to another blog I read put it most succinctly when she stated that, as she drives by different churches, she can't help feeling a burden for the pastors of the local assemblies as she finds herself reflecting, "I wonder if they have a heart broken by God, longing for people; or if they have a heart broken by people and longing for God?"

Whichever the case may be, the sting of betrayal and the pain of rejection is not unique to you. Consider if you will, Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 11: 23 - 28:

...I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then besides all this, I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along. (NLT)

As if all the aforementioned wasn't enough to deal with, he suggests in his final summation that, more importantly, besides all of these "light and momentary afflictions," he carries a burden for the churches he was responsible to oversee. I imagine it's safe to assume that he suffered his fair share of betrayal and rejection even from those who "claim to be Christians but are not."

Without a doubt though, the greatest example of how to deal with betrayal came from none other than our Savior Himself. In the Garden of Gethsemane, as He restlessly and prayerfully awaits His fate, Judas enters the garden at the head of a posse of temple guards out for blood. He walks directly up to Jesus and plants a kiss squarely on his cheek. Now Jesus was already prepared for Judas' betrayal. But to betray Him with a kiss! Even Jesus was astounded by this and couldn't help but express the sentiment. In case you wonder how close they were, I want you to know that the Scriptures tell us that Judas was the treasurer for the ministry of Jesus. You don't put people you don't trust in charge of your bank account. He was one of the 12 into whom Jesus tirelessly poured Himself out. Yet after three years of teaching them, weeping with them, laughing with them, eating with them, Judas betrays Him with a kiss. As if that wasn't bad enough, as Jesus traverses the via Dolorosa on the way to Golgotha (the place of His crucifixion), he is derided, spat upon and laughed at by the very people who had just a few weeks earlier thrown down their garments and waved palm fronds as he rode into Jerusalem sitting astride a donkey.

Amazingly, Jesus is on His way to die for the sins of these very people that are ridiculing Him. Is there a greater sting of betrayal than that? I think not. If you're a pastor struggling with betrayal, false allegations, slander and harsh judgment, then you're in great company. It is a burden that you are called to bear and one for which you have been amply eqquipped. betrayal and rejection is part of the pastor's burden.


Jacob said...

Thanks PJ that Gives me a Lot to look forward to. ;). Hey its Jake I read your blog. Just wanted you to know. it was good.

Joseph said...

Yes, Jake, I'm sorry to tell you that this is what you have to look forward to. Just think of the elite company you'll be keeping though. It's the sort of stuff that can make you heady!!!