Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Betrayal, Forgiveness and Reconciliation -Part 1
I read this article by Wayne Jacobsen here: http://www.lifestream.org/bodylife.php?blid=61
Wayne is the author of many books, including the LIFE CHANGING, "So you dont want to go to church any more" which you can find as a free downloadable ebook off the resources page of our website: http://www.cornerstonekeg.com/Resources.html
Many people I've met along the journey have begun to see clearly the oppressive nature of the Organised/Institutionalised Religious version of Christianity that we grew up in. The religious system that has made an industry out of proclaiming a "Separation" from God in one way or another, and then offers a "remedy" to its victims at a price. Part of this standard "remedy" to "Keep Favour" with God again may include things such as Tithing, Offerings, Attending countless weekly meetings and courses, Reading certain amounts of Scripture at certain times of the day, Praying certain prayers for certain lengths of time on designated days of the week, - and all these remedies are to be swallowed with the greatest of personal commitment and at any personal expense.
A normal course of response once one sees the Good News a bit more clearly is to become extremely critical and angry towards such a life sucking religious system and often people harbour great enmity towards the people who happened to be "driving" that religious machine at the time.
But the fact most often is that those leading the Institution had also been tricked into believing a different gospel. Perhaps having not know any better themselves and whole heartedly "serving God" to the best of their understanding.
This article, although covering betrayal and forgiveness on a much broader scale goes a long way to bring a Love perspective.
Its quite long so for the sake of easier reading chunks I have divided it into 2 parts. Enjoy:
"The world does not need one more example of people who claim to be Christ-followers while they blow up close friendships for whatever personal gain they may seek. We have too many already.Unfortunately, Christians have a far greater reputation for self-serving than they do for self-sacrifice. Church history is littered with successions of church splits, doctrinal distinctions that allow one group to look down their noses at another, gossip, and dishonest business practices.What a sad heritage indeed when the only thing Jesus asked of us is that we would love each other in the same way he loved us so that the whole world would know who he is! We failed that mission miserably. We failed it early. And we continue to fail it often.Paul and Barnabus couldn't even find a way to go on a second journey together to spread the gospel in the world. They ended up in a "violent disagreement" over John Mark that shattered their friendship and unfortunately set a tone that has endured for 2000 years. There are even numerous examples in history of both sides in a war praying to the same God to help them slaughter their enemies.If you wonder why authentic, caring community with other Christfollowers remains so elusive, it's because Christianity, as a religious system, merely offers humanity another tool to serve their own ambitions. Many, especially so-called leaders, have never learned to live with the same selfsacrificing love that allowed Jesus to engage others beyond his own personal needs. They view people around them either as those they can exploit if they are cooperative, or must subvert if they dare challenge or question.
We will love well in the world only when we learn that the essence of love is in laying down our lives for others, not using them for our own needs. We will never understand that freedom until we know how loved we are by God.
I've met a lot of people who want to be famous writers, artists, or musicians, others who want to change the world through media, political action, or power encounters. But I don't recall ever meeting anyone whose life ambition was to be a good lover of people. And yet, that's how Jesus seemed to live his life. He didn't start any projects, rush around to planning meetings, or plot world-altering strategies. He simply loved the people his Father put before him and the kingdom of God made its way into the world.
Maybe that's why he told the disciples that if they would love like he did the whole world would get to see who he is. It's the one thing Christians haven't done for 2000 years. It's amazing how easily Christians discard personal relationships in the pursuit of other things they consider more critical. Whether it is doctrinal purity, political power, personal acclaim, or behavioral conformity, anything we put above loving the people God puts before us will only make us more a part of the world system that offer human sacrifices to the god of our self-expedience.
Why do we do it? Because we have no idea how deeply loved we are. One can even teach the so-called "love message" and yet still throw someone under the bus at the first sign of trouble. If you're willing to do that to someone else to save yourself, you don't know Jesus well. Learning to live loved is the fruit of a growing relationship with him. It seems to take significant time, and most of our theological studies and religious efforts are not helpful in that process. I was a passionate practitioner of a religion called Christianity for over forty years before I had an inkling of how much the Father loved me. I was so busy trying to accomplish something great for him that people were often a means to my ambition, not the object of my affection.
As I grow in my understanding of his love for me it changes the way I see others around me, including complete strangers. I've come to appreciate that the greatest gifts we are given in this life are the people we know and the friendships that grow out of those relationships. Ask any person on the verge of death and they will swear it is so. Everything else is secondary.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same passion for relationship, and if you're going to love deeply in this world you will also get hurt often. You will be taken advantage of. You will be mistreated and often used. Our world is relationally challenged, which is why there are so many Scriptures that help us deal with relational breakdowns.
If you want to love like he loves, you will have to learn how to negotiate the painful realities of broken relationships and even find joy even in the process. Living loved by him and loving others freely around you is the greatest adventure you will ever know.
We learned at a very young age that the same people who might praise us one day, can easily reject us the next. I wonder how many people who shouted, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, also shouted, "Crucify him," only five days later.
Jesus knew that for many love would often take second-place to self-interest. I'm not talking here about momentary failures or misunderstandings that can temporarily derail a friendship. We all see things differently, and can disappoint each other without knowing it. But people of honor will work through those moments to find a mutually satisfying resolution with love and respect. Betrayal rises out of consistent patterns of exploitive, deceptive, or destructive behaviors.
For the past ten years I've begged every friend I've done business with, to resolve whatever difficulties might arise inside the friendship. I promised if they were unhappy, I'd make sure they walked away with a smile before I did. People easily agree to the concept, but at the first sign of conflict some will betray the friendship and seek whatever means they can to force their will. And almost all of them claim God's leading even when it involves outright lying and gossip. When I've asked them to submit their concerns to other believers of their choosing, they refuse. That's when you know they are not concerned with a fair solution, but only one that serves them.
Feeling used by another human being is one of the most painful realities of living in a broken world. I've been surprised by it on more than one occasion and am left wondering why people can't put affection and truth ahead of duplicity and greed.
Perhaps it simply asks more of people than they have to give. In his book, His Excellency George Washington, Joseph J. Ellis tells us that our nation's founders rejected the idea of a pure democracy knowing it would ultimately fail. "During the war Washington had learned, the hard way, that depending on a virtuous citizenry was futile, for it asked more than human nature was capable of delivering." And what was that? "Making voluntary sacrifice the operative principle of republican government had proved to be a romantic delusion. Both individual citizens and sovereign states required coercion to behave responsibly."
Without Christ that is certainly true. Often with Christ it is still true. I've spent a lot of time of late with people who have been through incredible acts of betrayal, whether it is an unfaithful spouse, abusive pastors, or even dishonest business associates. There's nothing worse than finding out that a close friend has decided they have more to gain by betraying you than by remaining faithful
.Rather than be overrun with pain, however, Jesus told us to consider ourselves blessed when we're lied about or excluded. And if we don't appreciate it, we will only treat others the way they treat us and perpetuate the cycle of pain. No, that isn't easy, but it is nonetheless the truth.
One thing that helps me is not to take it personally. No one deserves to be betrayed by someone who postures themselves as a close friend. Betrayal at its heart is not about you, it's about weakness in the other person's soul. Hurting people, hurt people. That's as true a statement as I know. Betrayal is an assault against love itself and only shows how lost the betrayer is in his own pain.
Of course, none of us can endure betrayal on our own. We have to land squarely on the lap of a loving Father, pouring out our hurts and disappointments, knowing he is able to care for us even beyond the unfaithfulness of others. As we find healing and rest in his love, which may take weeks or months, then it will become clear how he wants us to respond.
Sometimes he wants you to stay in the relationship and love them past it. At other times he will want you to distance yourself from destructive people, especially those who violate your boundaries. Loving others doesn't mean you have to let them walk all over you. He will show you how to lay down your life in trust that he will resolve things in far better ways than you can."
Please read part 2 here: http://thesoundofreign.blogspot.com/2012/05/betrayal-forgiveness-and-reconciliation_02.html