Today’s guest post is by Peter Hubbard, the teaching pastor at North Hills Community Church in Taylors, South Carolina. He has two master’s degrees and is currently completing a Doctor of Ministry degree in pastoral counseling at Westminister Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Peter and his wife, Karen, have been married 25 years and have four children. He is the author of Love into Light.
My wife and I recently sat with a friend whose husband had just announced he wanted to be married to another woman. He was abandoning his wife and kids. As we sat with her, I didn’t know what to say. I’ve been with many widows and grieving parents and have walked with friends through deep loss. But something felt different this time. Betrayal is like losing a loved one, except the loved one isn’t taken. He leaves. And the loved one is acting like a thief and the thing stolen all at once.
Betrayal is an invasion from within—an insider acting like an outsider, doing damage without tripping off any alarms. The pain is deep and toxic. And the victim of betrayal usually feels stunned, used, and angry. As Michael Card explains, enemies can’t betray one another:
“Only a friend can betray a friend
A stranger has nothing to gain
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain.”
The strongest word for “friend” in the Hebrew Old Testament is allup, a close companion. This word is often used in the context of betrayal to highlight the intensity of the treachery. The adulterous woman, for example, “forsakes the companion [allup] of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God” (Proverbs 2:17). In Psalm 55, King David captures the agony of betrayal.
“But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion [allup], my familiar friend.
We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God’s house we walked in the throng.”
David knew the cold, sharp, back-stabbing pain of betrayal. But at another time he wielded the knife. Uriah was his loyal friend, yet David stole Uriah’s wife and orchestrated his death (2 Samuel 11:1-27; 23:39). Betrayal went viral. Many of David’s friends and sons turned on him and sought to take him down.
Jesus befriended betrayers. He called the 12 disciples to follow him, yet he predicted their acts of treason: “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (Matthew 26:21). He made this announcement as they shared a meal. And after Judas went into the darkness, they sang a hymn, and Jesus broadened the prediction, “You will all fall away” (Matthew 26:31). Even Peter, who promised loyalty, was told he would deny Jesus. And he did.
The kiss of betrayal is far more painful than the crushing blow of animosity. Jesus, the friend of sinners, embraces the pain of betrayal so that we, his unfaithful friends, might taste loyal love. [Click to tweet!] And this loyal love changes us. It interrupts the epidemic of betrayal and transforms the tongue of treachery into a tool of truth and praise!
“Thank you, Jesus, that you invite betrayers to your table. And through the treason you endured, you fill us with your unfailing love.”
Today’s guest post is by Peter Hubbard, the teaching pastor at North Hills Community Church in Taylors, South Carolina. He has two master’s degrees and is currently completing a Doctor of Ministry degree in pastoral counseling at Westminister Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Peter and his wife, Karen, have been married 25 years and have four children. […]