Judas kiss: Dealing with betrayal in church
“Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend
Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don’t tell the truth.”
Undisputed Truth – Smiling Faces Sometimes
The Roman soldier who came to capture Jesus could not tell him apart from his disciples. Their cue came from the kiss given by Judas, and in today’s Church, there are still many ‘Judas kissers’ around. They speak words of love and encouragement while secretly they are either plotting your downfall or tearing your character apart.
Many pastors suffer from this two-faced behaviour as opposition is never upfront, but rather an orchestrated one.
It can be discouraging to deal with and can also leave victims bitter and entertaining the thought of giving up, which also sees some believers moving from one denomination to the next.
For answers on dealing with this kind of betrayal,Family and Religion reached out to the Rev Garry Knowles of the Toll Gate Circuit of Baptist Churches.
Knowles said if there were a binding contract to sign before entering ministry, the fine print would include: “The undersigned acknowledges that the pastoral ministry may be hazardous and subject the undersigned to expressions of animosity, including, but not limited to, slander, misrepresentation, and betrayal.”
Betrayal, said Knowles, is so profoundly painful that few pastors and congregations can talk about it, yet if they do open up, they can’t stop talking about what happened to them, he said.
HOW TO DEAL WITH BETRAYAL
“Betrayal is an abandonment or violation of trust by someone close to you. A husband betrayed by his wife, an employee passed over for a promotion by an employer who had promised it, a secret between friends brought to light for all to see, a promise made to a child so easily broken by a parent. How do we deal with that inevitable betrayal that will affect us in our everyday lives?” Knowles asked.
For him, the mental anguish caused by Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples and closest friends, is an often overlooked aspect of Jesus’ suffering. He said He had invested in Judas. He loved Judas. He cared intensely for Judas. He was discouraged. He was hurt. He felt pain. He wept.
Just like humans respond in moments of betrayal. “We often respond to abandonment or betrayal in anger, by dwelling on the circumstances. We often seek to get even or make our betrayers suffer intensely for how they’ve wronged us. Through Jesus’ example, though, we see a proper model of how to handle betrayal,” Knowles said.
Although Jesus’ internal struggle with Judas’ betrayal is not recorded, Knowles said we can assume that it was difficult for him emotionally.
“We know that he instructed Judas to do what he had set his mind to. He didn’t stop him or throw a fit. We also know that Jesus responded to Judas graciously. Jesus could never be accused of being a pushover, but he framed his response to Judas’ betrayal with kindness and graciousness,” he said.
Similarly, said Knowles, if persons have been betrayed by someone close to them – and eventually they will – the first response should be to cry out to Jesus who loves us, pursues us, and intimately understands the reality of that betrayal.
“The mind freezes as it tries to grasp how a friend, someone who knew you deeply, intimately, could turn on you and attack you. Bob Marley brilliantly captures the struggle in one song:‘Some will eat and drink with, then behind them su-su pon you; only your friend know your secrets so only he could reveal it,’” pointed out Knowles.
For those who are tempted to flee the Church after being betrayed, Knowles’ encouragement is not to give up. He said you are in the same path that other great people walked before and are now remembered as great because they refused to allow betrayal to stop them.
They instead learned how to turn their pain into greater usefulness for the Lord, he said.
“Respond with longevity in mind. The natural reaction we all have is to handle the situation like it must be resolved now! The fact is, we seldom have the power to bring any kind of reconciliation between us and the offended party, especially if they break fellowship and leave the Church. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, but it often is unrealistic that it will take place anytime soon,” he shared, with the instruction not to say anything or do anything you could regret years later.
“For example, someone leaves mad over a situation and the congregation at the next members’ meeting wants to know why. As I found myself in this situation and tempted to vent all the hurt, anger, frustration and brokenness I felt at that moment to the congregation, by God’s grace, I did not. Make no mistake. I wanted to, but it just didn’t seem right. As I look back on that meeting, lashing out at this person, who was not present, would have been sinful and only close the door to any future reconciliation with them years later. So, I remained silent,” shared Knowles from his own personal experience.
Knowles said to heed these suggestions in the most painful moments of betrayal, cling to Christ as your comfort, joy, and as the One who will always be with you through them.