When Your Friend Does Not Love Jesus Anymore
I grew up in a Christian home, attended a Christian school, and was at church every time the doors were open. So it goes without saying that most of my friends were Christians. Facebook has made it very easy to go back and see where all of those friends are now. Most, and I mean that, are not living like Christians. Some even say it out loud, “I’m not a Christian anymore.”I know I’m not alone, we all friends who have abandoned the faith. Sometimes it doesn’t hit us that hard; maybe we weren’t that close or perhaps we saw it coming, either way we move on with our lives and that person does not affect us. Then there are other times when the news breaks our hearts. We were close friends with that ex-Christian or accountability partners, or just church members together and the news hits us like a city transit bus.
What happened? I thought we were together, on the same page. How did this person abandon the faith? Their beliefs seemed so concrete, so real. I thought they loved Jesus. All of these questions and emotions can swirl in our minds until we just don’t know what to do. This forsaking of Christ has been historically known as apostasy. It is a real problem. That’s why so many New Testament writers are constantly reminding us how tragic apostasy really is in the life of the local church. Yet, we don’t have very many examples of apostasy. We have partial stories like Demas, but we only have one complete story of apostasy in the New Testament - Judas.
Anyone reading this blog probably knows the story of Judas, but we often stop the story at Judas’ suicide. Yet, the Bible continues this narrative through the lens of the apostles. We look back and say “Of course, Judas was an apostate!” but the apostles were not aware of Judas’ deceit. So when it happens they are shocked. Much like you finding out a good friend abandoned Jesus, the apostles were confused and felt betrayed by their former friend. This part of the narrative gives us a better look into both the heart of Peter and how we should deal with the emotional ramifications of a friend’s apostasy.
After Jesus ascends into Heaven and promises the Holy Spirit, the apostles go back to the upper room and pray. Most of us know that part of Acts 1, but what we may forget is that this is where we see Peter display his feelings about Judas’ betrayal. Imagine all the things Peter could have been praying and thinking about - fear over Christ’s absence, excitement for the Holy Spirit’s arrival, preparation for the future, but what is Peter’s heart fixed on? Judas. Despite, the depths of Judas’ vile deeds, it’s clear that Peter is still at a loss on how he could betray them like this.
Peter is personally hurt by Judas’ abandonment of Jesus. (Acts 1:15-19)
I would go even as far as to say that Peter clearly missed his friend. After all that has happened - the death of Jesus, the Resurrection, forty days of personal teaching from Jesus, the promise of the Holy Spirit, Peter is still thinking about Judas. Like many of us who have lost friends in the faith, Peter is trying to make sense of what happened with Judas. Peter is hurt and clearly grieving , like all of the Apostles, that someone whom they had lived with for 3 years and experienced so much together with would so deceitfully and maliciously betray the Savior. We too must grieve over these losses. It's not petty nor is it prideful to think about how their abandonment is affecting you. It is sinful to wallow in that loss though. There must be a path forward in our grieving. So How does Peter deal with losing Judas, his friend, to apostasy?
Peter searches the Scriptures to deal with his loss. (Acts 1:20)
Peter goes to the Word of God to make sense of this loss. He remembers what Jesus taught Him - all of Scripture points to Jesus. He is able to grieve over losing his brother by searching the Scriptures and understanding that God had purpose for Judas’ intentional actions. We too can run to Scripture when our friends who claimed to love Jesus say that they no longer believe in Him. We can see from passages like John 10, Hebrews 6, Titus 1, and II Timothy 3 that some will look, sound, and sometimes even acts like us, but are not of the household of God. We can find peace in knowing that a sovereign God will bring these loved ones back if they truly belong to Him. We can trust Him.
Peter prayed for God’s guidance in moving forward. (Acts 1:21-26)
Peter knew that the Apostles had a job to do, but He relied on God’s guidance to move forward from Judas’ betrayal and pick a new apostle to take his place. Think about how vulnerable they must have all felt, so quickly after one of their closest friends abandons them, they are now picking a new member? Would he be another Judas? They had to trust God and rely on His help in picking a new apostle. They were moving forward from their loss. We too must cry out to God for help. Pray for that friend, pray for your loss, pray for a path forward.
Maybe, you’ve cornered yourself off from fellowship because of a Christian friend’s abandonment whether from apostasy or something else, follow Peter’s example in stepping out in faith and trusting in God’s providence to move on and fulfill what God has for you.