Tuesday, July 7, 2009

When Emotions Run Away With Us IV

Judas was an opportunist. That's the way I see him anyway. Jesus Christ Superstar made him the hero of the drama, but he was anything but in real life. He was a thief, and a shameless coattail rider. Jesus was nothing but his avenue to a better life. When it dawned on him that possibility wasn't going to pan out, he shifted gears without any hesitation and started shopping his connection to Jesus for personal profit.

What was motivating him (beside the Devil, that is)? Emotionally, I would say Judas was driven by avarice. His appetite for personal gain overwhelmed every other concern and experience, and in his case, that's saying a lot. Think of what Judas saw and heard! Up in smoke all of it went because he was blinded by avarice. Those that are greedy for gain end up with destruction instead. As for Judas, so for anyone.

Barnabas had a great name in life, not nearly as great in history. He could have had both (not that we should desire such, but you know what I mean). He ran with the handpicked agent of God to the Gentiles, who understood God's voice and the Spirit's leading. Yet, over a favorite cousin, Barnabas got into such a sharp contention with Paul that the two had to separate-- Paul on to earth shaking ministry, Barnabas on to relative obscurity in his hometown in Cyprus.

What got in his way? Nepotism, pure and simple. He let his emotional attachment to family override other concerns and rejected the more objective judgment of his fellow missionary. As I read history, Paul was right and Barnabas wasn't. When we let our attachment to family override other ministry concerns, we don't help the family member and we undermine the ministry. Wouldn't it be nice if preachers today could learn this lesson?

Emotions are not the basis upon which decisions should be made. Where can we expect to go when we let the caboose lead the train? The biblical examples we've looked at teach us that. Though emotions are God given, they can't run the show.


  1. "When we let our attachment to family override other ministry concerns, we don't help the family member and we undermine the ministry. Wouldn't it be nice if preachers today could learn this lesson?"

    I'm thinking of a some famous young pop singer brothers and their former pastor father, any guesses?

  2. Ian,
    I wish I knew, but nothing comes to mind.

  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Assemblies_of_God_people

    Their Dad quit the ministry to travel with the kids, I think that's what your talking about.

  4. Hi SLW,

    I think you're being too hard on Barnabas here. Barnabas was an encourager, he saw the potential in people and advocated for them when others would not. This wasn't nepotism, it was just the type of guy he was. He in fact did something similar for Paul (Acts 9:26-27). We also know that Mark later matured. After all he wrote the book of Mark. :) Paul apparently changed his mind about Mark too (2 Tim 4:11).

    I've have never actually watched "Jesus Christ Superstar". I noticed a while back that it's on hulu. I started to watch it, but didn't get past the intro scene. It was just too cheezy. :)

  5. Kevin,
    I don't think I am being too hard on Barnabas. He earned his nickname, sure enough, but that doesn't mean he wasn't capable of error or going astray (Galatians 2:13). The Holy Spirit said set apart Saul and Barbabas (Acts 13:2)-- two people, one work-- and Barnabas lost track of that. Since Paul went on in that work, attested by the Holy Spirit and power, and Barnabas, not so much, I think I'm seeing this pretty fairly.

    John Mark did eventually learn from his error and become of great value to Paul in his work. Of course he had to leave Cyprus and Barnabas' side for that to happen. I take his development as just one more indication that Paul was right and Barnabas wrong.

  6. I think that our emotions can get us into a lot of trouble.

    As a Lutheran, I know that I do not have to 'feel saved' in order to know that I am saved.

    I believe that this is why the Lord instituted His Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord's Supper)
    that we might have the assurance of our salvation apart from anything we do, say, feel, or think.

  7. Interesting thought about the ordinances, Steve. In the A/G (my affiliation) we do not see them sacramentally (a means of receiving grace), hence the term: ordinances. I do think you are correct that there is an objectiveness, apart from feelings, involved in their celebration and memory. They point to a finished work by Christ which, if our trust is in him and what he's done, is effective regardless of how we feel at any moment.


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