Do you know that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach when you learn that someone has done something alarming? When you learn that a friends' marriage is on the rocks? That someone is moving far away? That a friend has been deeply offended by someone you love? Or is leaving your church in a huff?
I don't mean you feel disappointed. I mean something deeper. You feel sick. Oh no! Not that! Not them! How could they? You feel betrayed, fooled, defensive, maybe even manipulated.
How do you handle those situations? Do you write those people off? Swear you'll have nothing to do with them? Take sides. Try to argue with them? Rethink the past and find evidences that pointed to this outcome?
The trouble begins when we believe that the world will go on as it always has, that what we see is stable and reliable. We place ourselves in this universe like my daughter does in her bed, arranging her blankets and stuffed animals in perfect order, never suspecting her brother is in the other room is planning to sabotage her with pillows and a water gun.
We fall prey to believing events will continue in a predictable way and that people will too. After all, events and people do follow patterns. The world is not total chaos. We note the patterns and plan our lives accordingly. We all do that to survive.
The trouble comes when we claim those patterns as our right to have. We trust them and believe in them. We support ourselves on them, so to speak. It is a subtle thing that happens in our minds. We can tell its happening by our reaction to the unexpected. I don't mean that we're surprised. Of course, we're surprised. Who would've guessed what was going to happen next?
I'm talking about this feeling of betrayal and anger. It shows us that we thought something was taken from us that was ours. We expected to have that scrap of time. We believed our sleep was our own. We thought it was our right to be treated in a certain way. We believed we had a right to trust in the goodness and stability of others. We believed they were somehow different than the rest of the dog-eat-dog world. After all, they're Christians!
How long will it take for us to realize that Christians are different not because they lack sin but because of what they do with their sin? And when will we remember that even the greatest missionaries, pastors and mentors need Christ to save them just as much as Hitler did? When will we stop looking at each other for stability and security and love and power? When will we stop hoping people will do what only God can?
People, friends, pastors, and family members can abuse us, steal from us, manipulate us, or even kill us, but they can't take from us our sense of love, safety, or power so long as we are looking to the Lord for those things. He's the only one who is stable and reliable and won't ever change. He is the only one who wields power rightly. He's the only one who loves us unconditionally. He's the only one who understands our pain and can walk with us through it.
That is why no one deserves our allegiance and trust like Christ.
That is also why we can see these jarring disclosures about those dear to us as urges to turn our eyes again and again upon Jesus. We humans, we sinners are all alike on the inside. But Jesus is different.