Just Be Judas

“Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said…” John 14:22, NIV

Meet Judas, the disciple who’s known for who he is not. I feel bad for him that he happens to have the same first name as the one who betrayed Jesus for a bag of coins. Surely this Judas has his own story, his own unique gifts and passions, his own relationship to Jesus, but I don’t see them. I just know he’s not the betrayer.

He doesn’t get to be Judas. He’s too busy not being Judas Iscariot.

What about you?

Are you who you are? Or are you too busy not being who you’re not?

I love Jesus so I am happy to say I am a Christian. Sometimes I also want to add “but not like you think.” It’s so easy to attempt to form the identity I want in the eyes of others by contrasting myself with fellow believers, whether across the centuries or across the street. I know many believers who do the same. We are so focused on not being intolerant, not being irrelevant, not being wasteful, not being selfish, not being violent—not being like those Christiansthat we forget to be who we are. The people around us miss the gift of Jesus in us as they hear us constantly vilify our own family. Do you think that makes people want to be a part of the family?

Whether driven by sorrow over the church’s sins throughout history or by our own stylistic preferences of the moment, to see and present ourselves as “not Judas Iscariot” is tempting indeed. Have you ever noticed how quickly people bond over negativity and criticism? That awful togetherness is powerful. People organize and mobilize in droves in the spirit of anti-everything—especially when it comes to religion. The only problem is I have never heard someone say, “You are so clear about what’s wrong with other Christians that you’ve made me want to be one, too.”

Jesus doesn’t indwell who you’re not, he indwells you. So I encourage you to simply be who you are. Just be Judas. I can’t say you won’t be misunderstood and assumed upon and worse, like our Judas may have been. But you will be you: a person God created. What a courageous act! It makes Jesus available to the people around you in ways you couldn’t ever arrange.

Every day we choose.

Be who you are not: Tell people what you are against. They may be pleased. They may not not judge you. They may even join you.

Be who you are: Tell people what you believe. Show them what you are for. They might just fall in love.

October 24, 2012