My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:13)
Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, once wrote that we live in “The Age of Judas,” when people admire Jesus and His teachings, but they politely excuse themselves from following Him, because it doesn’t suit their worldly agenda.
This unfinished manuscript is a critique of western Christianity and the spirit of betrayal. The primary focus is the attempt of many religious leaders to blend capitalism with the gospel, for their own personal gain.
It is written as a series of essays which I will post here as time permits.
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because Jesus said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. (John 21:17)
Several years ago, I was asked by a church representative to write a piece for their newsletter. It was on or near New Year’s Day, and I had been praying for renewed commitment to Christ and total obedience to His leadings in the New Year. I told Him that I would stand up for Him no matter what the cost.
As I sat down to type the piece that the lady requested, I found myself writing a different kind of piece than I had written previously. My words were going in a completely different direction than usual. My previous writings had been pleasant cooperative pieces that made people feel good and comfortable. But this one was a rebuke directed at church leaders. It was entitled “The Judas Spirit.”
When I finished it, I looked over it uncomfortably, and wondered if it was a good idea to give this one to the church. It seemed as if the Spirit began to press me in my thoughts, asking me “Do you love Me? How much do you love Me? “
After much apprehension, I finally turned in the piece to the lady and watched as her eyes scanned the pages suspiciously, and she didn’t give me the usual affirmative response about printing it.
A few days later, I visited that church and all of the leaders seemed immensely uncomfortable about my presence. After the services, I approached some of them, and they behaved in a very cold demeanor towards me, as if they wanted nothing to do with me. The way they acted was as if I had made personal attacks directed at each one of them in my essay, when no names were even mentioned in the piece. Was the topic of money really such a delicate subject?
I was quite startled by this, and I did a great deal of soul-searching about the matter. I decided to pay a visit to a very dear pastor and his wife, whom I view as spiritual mentors in my life. The two of them were on their way into church for prayer services, but they came out without any hesitation and sat with me in the parsonage next door to talk.
Being very unsure of myself, I told them, “I trust the two of you like my parents, and I know that you will be honest with me if I have done something wrong.” I described the entire incident to them, and told them that the piece was about Judas and how his love for money destroyed his love for Jesus, and how I applied it to the present day and people selling out their faith for money. After I was done talking about it, I implored them to be truthful to me about whether they felt that I had shown improper disrespect to leaders or anything that I should be sorry for.
The pastor leaned forward on his chair and said firmly, “Sister Olive, sometimes when we stand upon the Word of God, we have to stand alone. But no matter what happens, you must stand and don’t let anything move you.” He and his wife both encouraged me not to be ashamed of speaking the truth and standing for Christ. After that, the three of us walked next door to the church for prayer services. I had been very distraught that day, and was so happy to be among friends.
That night, it just so happens that a man was visiting the church from another state, and he rose during the service to say a few words. He said, “The Spirit has told me that somebody here is hurting tonight, and I’m talking about some church hurt.” Tears began streaming down his face, as he continued about the evil that is taking place inside the church, and how it is wounding people, and how we must stand firm and be encouraged. I had never seen the man in my life, and neither had anyone at church that night.
I knew then that the Lord had indeed led me to write this essay about Judas, and that there is much more going in churches than meets the eye. As I was sitting down to write again and began my manuscript entitled “The Twisted Cross,” I heard the voice of the Spirit saying “It’s much worse than you even know yet.”
So I have set out to seek and tell the truth to the best of my ability.
The Judas Spirit
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:1)
Judas was called to be a disciple, and he left everything to follow Jesus, just like the other eleven did. He received the blessing of Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, and followed Him throughout the region as He ministered to the poor and the rejected. He witnessed the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the healings, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. He loved Jesus earnestly, and wanted to be faithful to Him. He would not have followed if he had not loved Him.
But something began to corrupt the mind of Judas. The scriptures say that he was in charge of the money bag. People donated money to Jesus and the disciples, so that they would be able to buy food and things that they needed in their travels. That money began to really sparkle in the eyes of Judas.
He began to ask a lot of questions. Why did that woman with the alabaster box of ointment pour out that expensive perfume upon the feet of Jesus? Why did Jesus let her do that? Judas told Jesus that they could have sold that perfume to give the money to the poor, but Jesus knew what was in his heart, and what his real issues were.
Judas used a noble explanation to cover the fact that greed had begun to take over his heart and mind (John 12:4-6). The scriptures say that Satan entered into Judas Iscariot. The ground work had been laid for him to possess Judas. Judas had developed a deadly case of the love of money. He sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
Today, the spirit of betrayal has crept into the house of God throughout our nation. Many religious leaders have come to love money more than Christ Himself. No doubt, most of them started out with pure hearts and joy about their salvation. They were great witnesses to the love of God, and had powerful testimonies of forgiveness and deliverance.
But now many of these have exalted themselves against the holy things of God. They are selling Jesus to innocent people, with a variety of dishonest tactics, and are robbing the poor and the widows in their midst.
Using spiritual slight-of-hand they are summoning money out of the pockets of the poor, promising them blessings and prosperity in return. The money disappears up their sleeves and never reappears. As the poor continue to struggle, someone is holding the money bag.
This he (Judas) said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. (John 12:6)
OLIVE TWIST ©2012