Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas With Judas

I'm writing this because everyone is stuck with someone.

And Christmas is a particularly adhesive time of the year.

Perhaps you already have a person in mind, but in case you don't I will jog your memory.

The person you're stuck with isn't the well-meaning, but tactless, guy at the office (or family member) whose comments you have learned to let roll off your back.

It's that person you don't want to see. The one who would make your life easier if they simply moved- out of the school, out of the office, out of the town, out of the country, off of your Facebook.

The wild-card that has you on your guard.

It's your cause-and-effect person. You know,

"I wouldn't yell so much if they'd just listen to me the first time." (Wait, that's just my kids.)

"If they wouldn't complain about everything, then I would make more of an effort to talk to them."

"If they wouldn't shove their 'perfect' family in my face, then I wouldn't feel so insecure."

"I'm really good at taming my tongue except when they do things specifically to annoy me."

It could be any manner of if-then statements, but when it comes down to it- it's the person who has hurt you repeatedly with their words and actions.

If you don't currently interact with any hurtful people, enjoy it! Then keep reading because chances are that person will walk into your life eventually, and even if they don't there's still some Jesus time coming up and who wants to pass on that?

Repeated interactions with these people threaten to do two very unpleasant things-

1. Calcify into an emotional kidney stone that moves painfully whenever they are near.
2. Turn you into an emotional hypochondriac- imaging emotional injuries all over the place where they were never intended.

Thankfully, I don't have "sticky" people in my family. But I know there are lots of people who do. There are sticky people at our jobs, in our neighborhood, even in our church.

So, how are we going to encounter these sticky people at Christmas and beyond without losing it? It would be easier if we didn't have to face them, but I know too many people for whom that's simply not an option, so let's have a game plan.

You've probably already gone the prayer route. Maybe you've been driven to your knees repeatedly over these issues. If not- just go ahead and fall to them. Don't pray while you are sweeping or balancing the checkbook. I'm not saying it doesn't work- prayers work anywhere and everywhere- I'm saying it benefits your peace of mind less. Some things you can't multitask. This may be one of those things.

Take some lessons from scripture. Search out the Godly people who encountered sticky people. How did David behave around King Saul? How did Jacob deal with his father-in-law?

How did Jesus treat Judas?

What a blessing is ours that we have such a close relationship with our God- so much so that there is no human relationship that is beyond His comprehension.

I thought about Judas the other day. It's easy to write the other disciples a pass for their betrayals. They were scared stupid. Eventually they lived and died following Jesus.

We can't say the same for Judas.

He spent every single day with the Savior and he never got it. How did Jesus do it? How did He face His betrayer every. single. day? And no rolling of the eyes? No snide comments? No gossiping? No punching him in the face? I don't get it.

The obvious answer is that Jesus was perfect. Jesus was God and man. And we're obviously not God, so that must mean this is impossible for us, right?

But we shouldn't let ourselves off the hook that easily, not because we need to try harder to be holy at Christmas, but because giving up the fight and giving in to our own hurt feelings will only hurt us more in the long run.

The secret isn't in dissecting the hurt and pain in their own lives. It might help a little, but it doesn't justify a thing in the midst of the pain they have caused us. The secret is in the person of Jesus.

Jesus was always about the work of His Father. 

At those moments when we are face to face with the hurt of "sticky" people around us, we need to remember Who is really in charge. It's not them. It's not even us. God is orchestrating it all for a very specific purpose. It stinks, it hurts, but the truth is that God is equipping you to experience and reveal His love.

When we are weak, He is strong. And He displays His strength most when we are buckled in weakness. We are tempted to give the other person the power. They are the ones who "cause" our reactions. But the truth is they don't actually have that power unless we give it to them.

How about we study the One who really has the power? Take some time and search the scriptures for the sticky people. How did God's people remain upright? They ascribed power and glory and honor to God. What happened when they succumbed to harmful reactions? They found forgiveness in His arms.

Forgiveness is another post, another blog, all it's own, but for now let's not spend this Christmas trying to "get through it." Let's live it. Really live it with other people that Jesus was born for. Even the sticky people because God stuck us together for a reason, and His strength, love, and glory are worth it all.

It's my prayer as you encounter people of all kinds, that the love and power of God works in you to love and live freely. I pray we all ascribe to God the power that He deserves and refuse to share that power with anyone else. And I pray you all enjoy this last week of Advent- really enjoy it!

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This morning I am linking up with Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday, If I get around to it, maybe I'll link up with others too!