30 March, Tuesday – Whose Cause Is It?

Tuesday of Holy Week

Isa 49:1-6
Jn 13:21-33,36-38

“Amen, amen I say to you, one of you will betray me”

Yesterday, we talked about the different kinds of believers and touched briefly on one group — those who subvert Christ’s cause for their own ends. Anyone who has ever volunteered at church can attest to how ambition, greed and pride often overwhelm the best of intentions. No one ever starts off being self-serving. Most people volunteer wanting what is best for the parish. Yet, personal agendas always seem to find a way to muddy the waters. Before you know it, you’re making decisions that affirm your point of view, that support your needs.

I used to serve on the board of a charity. I thought that some of the women I worked with were kindred spirits. But a disagreement over something small blew up into a boardroom fight to oust dissenting voices, and I saw my friends with new eyes. You think you know someone but really, you don’t until your friendship has been tested. These women are not bad women. They’re good mothers, and daughters, and sisters. They’re responsible members of the community. They care about social justice. So how did we end up here? Many, like me, have left because dealing with all that anger is exhausting. It is easier to walk away and leave the politics to those who have the endurance for it.

When we think about Jesus, and all the craziness he had to deal with — running a ministry, managing the apostles, dealing with the Pharisees, trying to side-step the Romans — it’s mentally exhausting! People are hard work. Love thy neighbor? I’m sure he wanted to throttle them sometimes. It must have hurt to watch his ministry undermined like that, and then to be betrayed by someone within his inner circle, someone he called a friend. The traditional view of Judas is that of the one-dimensional ‘bad guy’. But, perhaps he started out with good intentions too, just that pride and greed got in the way. Good people can make bad choices too.

While I had the option of throwing in the towel, Jesus did not; and that’s the crux of the reading from Isaiah today : …while I was thinking, “I have toiled in vain, I have exhausted myself for nothing”; and all the while my cause was with the Lord, my reward with my God. I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord, my God was my strength.”

God will find a way to sustain you if you’re fighting the good fight, even when it seems all is lost. And if you seek fulfilment not from worldly success, but from being a part of His bigger mission, God will be your strength. You’ll be impervious to all the politics, you’ll rise above the craziness because He will hold you up. If your cause is faithful to Him, God will see it to its end for you.

So to all of us who are trapped in untenable circumstances, take a step back and see — have we let ourselves drift away from His purpose for us? Is what we are doing still honouring Him? If not, perhaps it is time to shift our focus back to fighting the good fight.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for the awareness to step away from causes that appear to be good, but that in reality, serve things other than Him.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those who toil tirelessly at their work, despite being under-resourced, overworked and underpaid. To all the people who labor unjustly, may God give them strength and courage to rise above their circumstances

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