By Paul Proctor
January 4, 2004
Imagine, if you will, Adam looking at Eve, after having been driven out of Eden, saying: “Let’s take our garden back!” Sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? But, isn’t that essentially what the zealots were preaching around Jerusalem during Jesus’ earthly ministry? “Let’s take Israel back and free ourselves from Rome!” It is widely thought that some of these zealots tried to incorporate or twist Jesus’ spiritual message about a heavenly kingdom into their own political agenda for an earthly kingdom and, in vain, recruit Him into their revolutionary cause. Much to their dismay, He would have nothing to do with it.
Do you think any of that is going on today?
When the Lord allows us to be persecuted, oppressed or put in subjection to those of ill repute, be it a corrupt king, an emperor, a ruler, a dictator, a party, a president, a prime minister, a public official, an employer, a teacher, or some other ungodly or unfair person, our initial reaction is seldom “What is God doing?” or “What is God’s will?” With most difficult people and situations that come along in life, our first inclination seems to be: “How can I (we) get out of this mess?” Consequently, in our pride, desperation and impatience we start devising and implementing carnal solutions to what are, in reality, spiritual problems God is working through in our lives and in doing so often miss altogether what He would have for us.
Think about it. Couldn’t this be at least part of what led Judas into finally betraying Christ – a misguided zeal and plan gone awry to forward a social-political agenda through Him? Some maintain it was simply about greed and a love of money. But, if Judas was only interested in financial gain, why then did he try to give back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders upon Jesus’ condemnation before Pilate? Though scripture says he “repented”, (tried to return the money) considering that he went out and hung himself afterward, I would hardly call it a true change of heart – at least not like Simon Peter had after hearing the cock crow. They both betrayed Jesus – one by his deeds, the other by his words and regretted it. The key difference I see between the two was that Peter, after his remorse, eventually abandoned his carnal agenda for Jesus’ divine agenda. He turned his focus away from the worldly here and now to the heavenly hereafter. Judas, I believe, simply viewed himself as a complete failure to HIS revolutionary cause and guilty of taking down an innocent man in the process.
If it was only money Judas wanted, why didn’t he just take the silver coins and go his way? Furthermore, if he were ONLY a thief, why would he have chosen to keep company with men of such humble means? Why not go where the big money was and swindle them out of their wealth? I might be wrong, but it seems to me there was a lot more involved here than just a lust for money.
Since the twin towers fell and our troops were sent overseas to do battle with the “enemies of freedom”, a new “Christian conservative patriotism” has emerged into the mainstream. Though it is indeed encouraging to see liberals largely on the sidelines these days, I find many of the emotionally-charged events choreographed into photo ops and crowd-pleasing rhetoric, a lot like the new spirituality behind the purpose driven, seeker-sensitive, church growth movement that is currently sweeping the country – an inch deep and a mile wide – powered by pragmatism, pleasure and pride, with a mesmerized following that will cheer and support, right or wrong, biblical or not, almost anything implemented by its leaders, merely because it has been labeled “Christian”, “conservative” and/or “patriotic”. Like the zealots of old, I fear we are co-opting Christ for our own ends rather than abandoning our causes for His. Let’s face it – because of our fallen nature, we are all control freaks facing the greatest personal challenge known to man – surrendering the throne of our lives to the only One worthy of it – Jesus Christ. As Judas demonstrated so well for us – being CLOSE to Jesus is a lot different than following Him.
Truly we are justified by His death on the cross into a new life eternal, but not without repenting of our old life with its idols and agendas. My intent here is not to disparage our leaders – political, religious or otherwise but rather encourage the followers because WE are not a reflection of those we elect and support – THEY are a reflection of US. It is not THEIR hearts that need to be changed so that we will have someone worthy to follow – it is OUR hearts that need to be changed so our Lord might lead us ALL in His mercy and grace toward a heavenly kingdom.
If you are hoping and praying for a better year than the last and are looking for a New Year’s resolution, I hope you will consider forgoing all the idols and agendas that advance earthly kingdoms, be they liberal, conservative, secular or religious, for a higher calling – a new life in Christ – the One who said “my kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)
If we’ve learned anything from the tragedy of Judas Iscariot, it is that good intentions are just not enough. Let’s turn our focus, as Peter did, from the worldly here and now to the heavenly hereafter and the only Leader that can take us there.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14
© 2004 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“How can I (we) get out of this mess?” Consequently, in our pride, desperation and impatience we start devising and implementing carnal solutions to what are, in reality, spiritual problems God is working through in our lives and in doing so often miss altogether what He would have for us."