Summary: How does Jesus deal with toxic people?
Jesus and Toxic People June 7, 2009
Matthew 26:17-30 – Last supper
John 13:1-17 – Foot Washing
A few weeks ago it seemed that almost everyone who I sat down and talked with were dealing with “toxic” people in their lives. Weeks like that are like “discernment for dummies” for me. I figure if I keep coming across the same issue again and again, it might be something that I should teach about. The problem is, nothing came to mind on what the Bible says about how we should deal with toxic people in our lives. I went to Donna and asked her about. I went to God and asked him about it.
That week both Pam and I were having trouble sleeping – lying awake for much of the night for no good reason. One of those nights I started thinking about Jesus sharing communion… with Judas. I spent the night meditating on Jesus breaking bread with the traitor, washing his feet in John’s Gospel. In the morning I had two thoughts: one was “man do I need to get some sleep!” the other was “what was that all about?” It literally took me days of rolling that image around in my head before I realized that God was possibly answering my question! Judas definitely fits as a toxic friend of Jesus’.
Toxic Judas and Toxic people
When you are looking for toxic people in the gospel, your eyes might land on Herod, or Pilate, or the religious leaders, but there is something horrifying about Judas – he is a disciple, Jesus chose him as one of the twelve, he is a friend, a companion over the three years of Jesus’ ministry. He is almost a close as you could get, and yet he has been stealing for the three years, robbing the purse that was there to support Jesus and the disciples and to feed the poor. He’s been lying and deceitful, and finally he sells Jesus out for filthy lucre – 30 pieces of silver, the cost of a slave. He is the betrayer. His very name has come to mean betrayer. He is toxic.
Who are the toxic people in your life – the people who seem to change the very atmosphere of the room when they walk in.
Maybe they are like Judas – lying thieves, betrayers of trust. People who take advantage of every opportunity to get ahead on the backs of who ever gets in the way.
Maybe they are people that you have to rely on, but they continually let you down.
Maybe you share the toxicity – you have a great need to please, and they are impossible to please!
Maybe they are hateful people; who pour their hate out on you and whoever is around. Maybe they are the one who should show you love, but they show hate.
Maybe they have a bent, twisted negative view of the world, and they share that twisted negative view with who ever will listen
Maybe they have power that they use to grind you down.
How do you deal with them?
If you google “toxic people” you get a bunch of articles about how to avoid toxic people, how to get them out of your life, and a few on how to get revenge.
How does Jesus deal with Judas?
Eating with him – Middle east – to eat with is to accept – Jesus is accused of eating with sinners & thus accepting them.
Jesus ate with Judas – every day, but this special meal – the Passover, the Last Supper, the “do this in remembrance of me” meal. He shares this meal with toxic Judas.
They share the same dipping bowl: “The one who dipped his bread with me…” He shares his dipping bowl with the one who is in the midst of betraying him – and Jesus knows it – he in not unaware.
Jesus washes Judas’ feet
It is Peter he has the argument with.
Intimate service – two men who would not participate in the foot washing – one would leave and then the other.
Jesus way of dealing with toxic people is to serve them, show them love, and welcome them in.
If we are to follow Jesus, this is how we should deal with toxic peple!
“In Iraq, we were invited to Christian worship services nearly every night. One unforgettable night was at St. Rafael’s cathedral in Bagdad, where once again I was reminded of the God of extreme grace. We sang familiar tunes, and the priest got up to give the homily. He had just served six months in prison for his faithfulness to the Gospel. What would his message be at such a crucial moment?
He told the true story of a woman whose son and husband were killed by a police officer. Eventually they caught the police officer and dragged him before the court. In court, as the judge considered the sentence of the police officer, the woman spoke boldly: “He took my family away from me, and I still have a lot of love to give, and he needs to know what love and grace feel like – so I think he should have to come to visit my home in the slums, twice a month, and spend time with me, so that I can be a mother to him, so that I can embrace him, and he can know that my forgiveness is real.” - Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution, p.276-7