Wednesday, October 05, 2005My friend Kathryn poses the same question posed by Bob Dylan a generation ago:
Did Judas Iscariot have God on his side?
Let me rephrase the question and, in so doing, change the meaning. Was Judas Iscariot on God's side? I do not intend to be a legalist, but the goal of Christianity is not to have God on our side. It is to be on His side.
Speaking to the specific question of Judas, it should be clear to anyone that in that one instant of betrayal, God was not Judas' side. Not because of God's action, but because of Judas'. The point here should be that God is objective and He is constant. He does not change. He might surprise. He might reveal Himself to us in way that we do not expect. He mightis likely to rattle our social and cultural conventions. But God is not in the business of choosing sides. His will is what it is and if two sides compete against one another, the winner is the result of His sovereignty, not necessarily any choice or action on the part of the victor. Judas clearly sinned when he betrayed our Lord, but God's purposes - ordained before time began - were accomplished nonetheless. I can't explain it, but it is what it is. I believe that an adherence to God's commands as revealed in Scripture and an understanding of natural law as it is stamped, to one degree or another, in the heart of every man will bring about certain results. Yet it must be remembered that all of good behavior is nothing outside of God's grace, and whether we sin or do not (and we invariably will sin), everything in this universe is subject to the sovereignty of God.
So was God on Judas' side? Not in the moment of betrayal. Not at all. Was God on my side when I cut that guy off in traffic or expressed envy at the success of a friend? Nope. But neither instance took place because of God's action, but rather His inaction. He stayed right there, while I, like Judas and the prodigal son, wandered off, angry and bitter.
Let us be thankful that He welcomes us home in spite of ourselves.