Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Good Friday, Bad Attitude


WE'VE ALL had that moment where we think, “I wish I hadn’t done that. I wish I hadn’t said that.” Almost as often, we’re left asking “Why did I do that? Why did I say that?”

The gospels give us examples of two people who were left with deep regret: Judas and Peter. What can we learn from them? What do they have in common with one another? With us?

Power Lust
Peter and Judas were looking for worldly power from Jesus.

We know well that Peter was often gunning for the top spot, always the first to speak, always the boldest in his words.

That’s an easy one. But, Judas?

Mystery surrounds this historical figure. We know a few things about him, among the most interesting is this: He held the money. But, how did he end up with that position? Wasn’t Matthew the former tax collector/money man? Wouldn’t he be the natural choice for the job? Despite this, Judas managed to get this position for himself.

As the true nature Jesus’ message became clearer, they started to resent him: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Then, which world, precisely? “The Son of Man goes to be crucified?” Crucified?

Poor Me
They began to feel sorry for themselves. Their self-pity led to their betrayals of Christ. (“ I do not know the man!”)

And our self-pity is the root of so much of the regretful stuff we say and do.

A woman who feels overworked and unappreciated at her job expects to come home and have the family fall at her feet in worship. When they don’t, she may snaps in fury.

A man feels his wife doesn’t give him all the affection he “deserves.” Perhaps he should find someone else to give him affection...

In both cases, a family suffers.

A teenage girl find herself in the wrong relationship, robbed of her dignity. How often do these stories start with the feeling that her family just didn’t appreciate her and how good she was trying to be? “Why bother? It seems like the guys at school respect and ‘appreciate’ me much, much more for the grown-up woman that I am.”

“My boss doesn’t appreciate me,” another may say. “Perhaps, it’s o.k., then, to cheat him.”

“I am trying to run a business, but my employees are lazy and careless. Maybe that’s how I should treat their dignity.”

“Every day, I come home from school and have nothing fun to do. It’s not fair. My life is so boring. I need some real excitement.” Many porn-addicted adults were first exposed at age 14, or even as young as 9 and 10.

In each case, self-pity comes before the fall.

What Have I Done?
Then, of course, comes the regret, for Judas, for Peter, for me.

What have I done? And on and on.

There is nothing humble about Judas’ “I have betrayed innocent blood!” Why? Because that was the entirety of his self-righteous analysis, and mine as well. Nada mas. “How could I have done this?” There is not thought for God, His love and my desperate need for His grace.

A Way Out
How do we break this cycle? It seems to me that we should stop thinking so much. We think and think and think about our situation and feel worse and worse for ourselves.

When the self-pity starts to creep in, cut it short. Get out of the past and be in the present. If you are at work, work. If you are driving your car, drive your car. Be grateful for the present things, the project that’s engaging your mind, the hum of your car, the air moving in and out of your lungs and the presence of God to whom is glory unto ages of ages.

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