Betrayal has to be one of the worse feelings and experiences that a person can face. To experience it is like having your guts pulled out and left on display. The whole world seems to tip sideways and you can't find your balance. Suddenly you don't know who you can trust in your life as everything that was real yesterday seems to be a facade for a bunch of liars today. There is pain at the lose, sorrow, grief, denial and then anger and a desire for revenge. That's how it feels for us. I wonder how it feels for our Lord Jesus?
The consequences of denying Jesus are pretty straight forward. He explained it to the 12 disciples he was sending out:
Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)
Not very complicated is it? Jesus was sending the 12 with his authority over demons and all illness. He was sending them as his representatives. How do we think that they could disown him? Denying, disowning, betraying can take on many different forms and we would do well to take note.
Disowning is more than just stating that you have nothing to do with Jesus. That's what Peter would do in that infamous courtyard, outside of Jesus' first mock trial. Peter was recognized but out of fear and confusion he denied having anything to do with Jesus. Most of us would not go as far as this in disowning Jesus, although some of us might, in certain circumstances, when we feared for ourselves.
There is the out and out betrayal, when we sacrifice Jesus for our own personal gain. Whether Judas was just after the money or he was trying to provoke Jesus into action, it came down to the same thing; he was trying to profit from Jesus. I think this happens more often than most people want to admit. We use Jesus, his name, his Church, whatever we need in order to make a buck, to get ahead in this world. We betray his love, his sacrifice, his compassion and grace. We use and abuse his people for our own personal security, whether it is financial, emotional, or mental. It is just a game to us, either that or we are so far lost in it that we have fooled ourselves into believing it is real.
Then there is the betrayal, the disowning that we are all guilty of at one time or another. This is when we fail to acknowledge the power, might and sovereignty of Jesus over our lives. We pay him lip service; we attend worship; we rub shoulders with believers, but we believe we are responsible for our own accomplishments. We pray, we ask for help, we may even make promises in return for the help we need, but when we get what we want we drop Jesus like a hot potato. Although we carry the name Christian we deny Christ's ownership. We claim that we are the masters of our own destiny, the builders of our own kingdom, the ones who accomplished our own miracles.
Perhaps we don't recognize ourselves by using these words but at least acknowledge the attitude. When you succeed, who gets the credit? When Jesus sent out these 12 disciples, imagine if instead of returning to acknowledge what was accomplished, they simply hit the road and started a new career of faith healing, raking in the profits? If Jesus is not the reason you do what you do, and if you do not recognize that he is doing it through you, and if you cannot see that he deserves all the glory for whatever success you have, then you are in danger of losing your most prized blessing.
As the people who bear his name, Christian, we must check ourselves constantly that we are not allowing any pride to creep in over things Jesus is doing through us. All of our success belongs to him and we need to testify about that, acknowledging his greatness in front of the whole world. That is the purpose for our success, that he would receive the glory and the world would see how great he is. If we try to steal any of the glory for ourselves, we are disowning him, betraying him and are placing ourselves in a dangerous place. We must always approach his work with humility, thankful for such a privilege, and giving credit where credit is due. In this way our Lord will not be ashamed of us when he presents us to dad. In fact, I want to live in such a way that he can be proud of me on that day. To God be the glory, great things he has done.