Friday, April 13, 2007

The Invited

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, " I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me." The disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which one of them he meant."

Isn't it amazing? The disciples were at a loss to know which one of them would be Christ betrayer. After three years together, eating, sleeping, walking, performing miracles, and going through adversity - they didn't know who the betrayer was. In fact the word says, they were at a loss. There were no evil suspicions among them. Even more amazing was that Christ knew from before the moment he called Judas to his side that Judas was his betrayer, and yet his behavior towards Judas had never given the other eleven the slightest hint. Could we say the same? Do people know who we like and who we don't like? Do people know who your enemies are?

When I was a child, I was raised in a home that had the a very strange mix of attitudes on racism. My parents would always tell us racism was wrong and that everyone is equal. They would always tell us that they weren't prejudice and didn't discriminate, but as we rode along in the car when my mother would see the Arab and Indian students from the local university she would cry out things such as, "Look at those camel jockeys! Black as the ace of spades!" Things became even more confusing as I neared dating age. It became very clear that my parents lack of prejudice and discrimination did not extend to the arena of dating and marriage. The excuse was that even though it mattered not to them, they didn't want to see me go through the hardship of an interracial relationship in our society. I guess that's why my father threatened my life at the age of 14 for walking down the street with the African- American paper boy.

Regardless of the way I was raised, the lessons in selective racism never really quite took hold. I could never really understand why anyone would want to narrow the circle of whom they chose to love. But now as an adult I find that there are many more reasons for narrowing our circle than just race. Oh race can still be a factor, to be sure. But when we examine our individual lives and our circle of friends, what do we see? If we are blessed enough to have a variety of friends from different races, what other factors can we look at? Classism? Education? Age? Outlook? Social rank? Religion? Marital status? Do we have friends that we disagree with, or does everyone in our group think like us, talk like us, look like us, dress like us and act like us? When people meet us for the first time, how welcome do they feel in our presence? How immediately do they know if they will "fit" in with us and our friends? And how obvious is all of the above?

When Jesus said that one of the disciples would betray him, they were at a loss to know which one it would be. It could have been a very different scene, especially if Jesus had not been so utterly even handed in his treatment of the disciples. It could have read "then the disciples turned simultaneously and in one voice cried out, "Judas!" I thank God that didn't happen. And as I grow older I find that I am even more challenged in the choices that I make for friends and the way that I treat others. God's arms and hands are evenly extended, to everyone, period. And I am thinking that the more we grow to be like Him the less obvious it should be in my life whom I like and whom I don't like. I find that I am being challenged to broaden my circle. I'm being challenged not to close ranks, but to open them. And to open them in a childlike trust that even if my openness exposes me to hurt, betrayal, or what have you, my God is big enough to hold me in the midst of it all.
After all, my Savior and Lord didn't lock Judas out, He called him in. He didn't push him away, but embraced him. And even as Judas delivered the kiss of betrayal, Jesus called him friend.

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