I've been thinking a lot about betrayal lately, its something that I've had thrown at me a lot in the past year and a half in various ways for different reasons, but ultimately 1 reason that has manifested itself in different ways at different times. I've been thinking a lot about it for several reasons but the main one being, I keep trying to figure out what Jesus would do with certain circumstances I've been given? You see, when things aren't black and white it leaves a lot up to interpretation and that can lead to actions where one can have a hard time trying to decipher what the "right" thing to do is. I've talked about this before, I've been wresting with it for a while so its making another appearance on this here blog. I was talking to someone recently and I said, I wonder what Jesus would say was the hardest part about the whole crucifixion experience? If we could sit down and have some face time with him and ask him to break it down, what would he say was the absolute worst part? The long walk carrying the cross while people yelled horrible things at him and spit in his face? The crown of thorns pressed violently into his head? The actual nails being driven into his wrists? The hanging with the weight of his body on those nails? The spear in his side? Or...was it the betrayal by those that claimed to love him the most? To have to endure watching the people that repeatedly told him they loved him look him in the eye and betray him like it was nothing? Please hear me here, I'm in NO WAY comparing my hurt to what Jesus experienced, but I have had some very painful physical pain in this life, and I've been betrayed and felt the sting of that and for me there's no question, the betrayal is by far the most painful...and lasting. You see, Jesus eventually was out of the physical pain, that was removed when it was finished, but the betrayal doesn't go away...he still has that pain to carry with him.
Today the news came out that Baylor's head football coach, Art Briles was fired due to an (alleged) cover up of sexual assault by some football players. I don't know all the ins and outs but I keep thinking about the girl(s) who were abused, and how the silence and (alleged) cover up of it all (by a Christian university no less) must have felt like such a betrayal of their experience and pain. And now, the truth is "out there" and natural consequences have taken place, and I can't help but think they must feel so vindicated, like their abuse wasn't nothing. Its SO HARD when a wrong has been done and people turn a blind eye for their own sake, they don't want to get their hands dirty. I have to believe this is not what Jesus had in mind when he called us to be peacemakers.
In college I majored in Christian Ministries with a minor in Theology and I had an emphasis in youth ministry. I took a class that required that I go hear Bart Campolo give a lecture at my school on youth ministry and it ended up being one of the most profound experiences I had in my 4 years at APU. For those of you who don't know who Bart is, he is (well, rather this is who he was when I was in college, he's changed his views a lot in recent years) an evangelist who lives and breaths urban youth ministry. He spends his days "in the ghetto" trying to reach broken kids with the good news of Jesus. When he's not doing that he's traveling the world speaking, trying to recruit urban youth workers to come work with at-risk youth. He's got a pretty amazing mission and is a very dynamic speaker with gripping stories. One of his stories has haunted me for years because of the reality of how messy life can be, and Jesus calls us into that mess and yet, he doesn't always give us the clear "right" answer for how to respond to certain situations. He explained how he had been working with a boy who came from a broken home, no dad, mom was working lots of jobs just to get by, he was often left unattended and was on a bad trajectory if something didn't change in his life. Bart had been pouring into this kid, trying to show him there was more to life and that was Jesus. This kid showed up at Bart's house one day and asked if he could live with him? Bart said this was a regular occurrence, kids would often come to him after trust was built when they felt they had nowhere to go and how it was a tricky thing to navigate b/c obviously he couldn't let all these kids come live with him and his family. So he pushed back on the kid and said "What do you mean your mom kicked you out?" After some back and forth the kid confessed that his mom wanted him to beat up a kid and he refused because "Bart said that Jesus said that you don't hurt people and that fighting isn't okay." So, because of his refusal to beat up this kid his mom kicked him out and he had nowhere to live. Bart pushed back some more and asked why his mom wanted him to beat up another kid?! After more back and forth the kid confessed "Because he's been raping my little brother." Bart went on to say how when in these situations, when life is this messy there's a problem, its true, Jesus says to love and not fight back but rather, to turn the other cheek. Bart went on to say, "in the ghetto you're often not dealing with good and bad, you're dealing with bad and worse." "So I looked him in the eye and I said, you go beat up that kid, you beat him so hard so he never touches your brother again." Bart went on to say when that kid walked away he felt so yucky, so gross, that he was covered in mess and he didn't want that on him, he cried out to the Lord and begged for his forgiveness but he didn't know what else to do, there was nothing "right" about any of this!!!!" He goes on to say how life is messy, doing life with urban youth is really messy, and Jesus calls us into the mess without all the answers but you go anyway, because that is what Jesus would do, and he too would get the mess all over him.
Life isn't black and white, there's a lot of gray, even/especially in the Christian life, but when a wrong has been done and people don't want to make a move because they want to keep their hands clean, people get hurt. Life is messy, but Jesus calls us into the mess, sitting on the sidelines isn't an option. xo