I have experienced real relational duplicity before, we all have. I have had an ex-girlfriend cheat on me, I’ve received NASTY anonymous emails about my ministry, I have had a good friend send me nasty emails, I have had friends curse me out and yet I still haven’t experienced the level of unfaithfulness that Jesus Christ experienced by two of his twelve closest friends.
Luke’s account of the death of Christ has a seemingly obscure verse on treachery.
Luke 22:31-34 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
This verse is pointedly sandwiched between Judas turning Jesus into authorities (betrayal) and Peter denying him three times (more betrayal). I believe that this verse offers us three practical steps when dealing with betrayal. Whether that is in our workplace, our relationships, our own addiction, or our actions towards a friend—it is possible to have God work in new ways.
1. Acknowledge Betrayal: Whether you’ve been betrayed, or you (like Judas) have done the betraying. Acknowledge the real ramifications of it. Often times we try to sweep existent issues under the proverbial carpet. This has “disaster” written all over it! Nothing destroys relationships more than passive aggressive attitudes towards conflict. We see Jesus pointedly explaining to Peter that he will–in fact–deny (or betray) him. God is the Creator of renewal and desires his creation to partake in the process.
2. Seek God in Sifting: When trials arise– when those closest to you betray or hurt you; find God in spiritual practices. The sifting process is the act of taking the flour through a mesh screen. As a person shakes the screen, the flour falls between the holes leaving the purest form and extracting all impurities. As you find yourself in a situation where friendships, jobs, and finances shake– seek the nature of God in all you do. Often times we use our own strength to manipulate a situation. Through our own strength, we simply leave disloyalty open ended or unresolved. By seeking God through the simple practice of silence, prayer, and solitude, we’re allowing the Holy Spirit to heal our wounds and offer the purest form of restoration. Jesus, knowing that Peter was going to falter still prayed for His friend regardless.
3. Move forward like Peter: As some may know, Peter denies Christ three times fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy. However, an unlikely thing happened. Instead of Peter turning in his “Disciple Card” with defeat, Peter decided that his betrayal would lead to an opportunity of movement. We can dwell on it, or we can move forward offering the same love and sacrifice that Christ Jesus offers. By dwelling on our pain–and heartache–we are actually denying the hope in the death of Christ. When it seems that something is over, finished, or irreconcilable—Christ is often starting something new. We see evidence of this repeatedly in scripture. It was on Peter that Christ decided to build His church, and it was through Peter that millions have had the opportunity to experience the fullest nature of Redemption. God LOVES to do new things, and it’s our prerogative to partner with him. Don’t dwell; be made anew.