Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Gospel and Betrayal

Have you ever been betrayed?  If you live long enough, you will be.  But some of us experience horrible betrayal -things that nobody would dare to make up, things that human creativity wouldn't dream up for fiction.  Not only was the act severe, but the pain of betrayal is fueled also by the identity of the betrayer: the more the attachment to them, the closer they are to your heart, the greater the wound.

It is easy in those times to become bitter.  There is almost a sense in which bitterness serves as a temporary bandaid to cover the wound which is so deep and so exposed that it simply gushes and throbs too much to deal with.  Self-righteousness abounds, and we call it "righteous anger."  It is easy to turn to other things such as self-aggression, as well.  Psychologists, counselors, and pastors who have been doing their job long enough are well acquainted with the various ways we choose to deal with the severe pain and anger of betrayal without actually facing it and dealing with it.

But what if you could turn to that person and say to them, "You are not the 'bad guy' and I'm the 'good guy.'  I'm angry with you for what you did.  You betrayed me, and it is evil -I hate it, and God hates it.  But every time I raise a fist against you in my mind, there is a bruised and broken man hanging on a plank of wood standing in my way.  No matter how many times I try to avoid the spectacle in front of me, it stares me in the face.  The Man says to me, 'This is my blood, which was poured out for the remission of sins... yours as well as theirs.'  Punishing you will not take back what you did, and this bloody Man will not release me from what He did for us.  I cannot do anything but forgive you, though I cannot bear to even see you right now.  I pray that this Man, Jesus, would be as real to you in what you have done as He is to me in my desire to make you pay for it."

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