While I was visiting the Isle of Iona, which is a part of the Hebrides of Scotland, I attended morning worship on the weekdays. On Wednesday the Scripture passage read aloud was from Luke 6:12-16.I have read it before, but what struck me this time was the last part, "Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor."I thought to myself, "Who in their right mind would do that?Who wants a traitor as a part of the group?"I was in a holy moment, and something seemingly unholy hit my ears and shocked my brain.
When I was in primary school we played kickball during recess, and we always wanted the best players on our team. They were the ones picked first, and the mediocre players were chosen last, but no one would have wanted a traitor to throw the game. Every professional and college team wants the best players. Some are outstanding athletes and others get the job done, but no coach or team owner wants a player to give away the plays or miss points.Even Benedict Arnold was once one of the best generals in American Revolution War history, but what is he known for?Being a traitor.
So Jesus chose twelve guys, and Luke makes sure to tell us that one was a traitor, and for the first time (in a special worship service in an old stone church on a wee isle of Scotland) I thought that the statement was strange.Why would Jesus do that?
Then I thought, "We are all traitors."Another unholy thought shocked my brain: WE are traitors!We are influenced by sin that constantly works to turn God's truth into questionable and optional ideas.We work against God by doing what we want to do, by hurting others to prove a point, by refusing to serve others in need, and so forth.Why do we worship God on a Sunday and/or during the week?Because we know we are traitors to God's will.We realize this sad situation and we are sorry.We worship and study and serve, because we desperately want God to clean and save us.
Now, Jesus chose eleven guys and even Judas for a purpose.Sadly, the traitor was chosen for an evil purpose.Yet, Jesus chose twelve guys and 70 disciples and many more women and men despite being traitors.He chose them despite how they wrestled against God for mastery of their lives, and He molded and shaped them to be faithful people of God.Jesus also calls us, and by His righteousness we are molded and shaped into new creations.We find ourselves being more open to God's will and not sin's lies.We find ourselves being less stubborn to be God's servants; in fact, we are joyful to be agents of God's love and grace in the world.
Through Christ we are no longer traitors.Through Him we are friends, disciples, children whom God loves.What a relief!Thank goodness Jesus chose us, calling us by name, and continues to choose us, calling us to a deeper, richer life in God.