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Spiritual Growth

Love Until the End – A Word by Mandy Woodhouse

If you follow my blog, this one is a little more raw than usual.
I believe vulnerability is so important, especially in the body of Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that my victories (and even my processing toward my victory) can encourage and inspire others along their own journeys.

This all started a few months ago when I started diving in to the book of John. Usually the Holy Spirit leads me to read a particular book in the Bible and won’t let me leave that book until I feel a release. In this past season I have eaten up the book of John, and tried to imagine myself in every scenario with Jesus that John writes of.

Of all the times that I’ve read through this book, this is the first time that the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet grabbed my heart and would not let go (John 13). Much like most people I know, the foot-washing-Jesus story has been preached to me a hundred times, in many different ways. But it wasn’t the actual foot-washing action that arrested my heart – it was the fact that Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, and yet He washed his feet and loved him still. John 13:1 says that Jesus knew it was His hour (which meant He knew Judas would betray Him that very night), and yet “…He loved them until the end.” It doesn’t say that Jesus “loved the disciples that loved Him” or that Jesus “loved because He had to” or even that Jesus became jaded and put up walls and then struggled to love. It states clearly that Jesus LOVED “the world” and it is everyone in that world (Judas included) that He gave His life for (John 3:16).

I stewed over this for several weeks, wondering how I had never really thought about this situation with Judas before. I had asked Holy Spirit to make what I read very real to me, even as if I was there with them. My desire was to feel what the disciples felt, to be overcome by love for Jesus the man, much like that of the Disciples John and Peter. And yet my heart was constantly drawn to the betrayal of Judas and the love that Jesus still showed him.

“But Jesus was GOD divine, so He HAD to love,” I first thought to myself. The Bible is clear that Jesus was fully man and yet fully God. My mind wondered if it was the “fully God” part of Jesus that gave Him the ability to love Judas despite what He “knew” was in this man’s heart. That’s quite possible; but at the same time Holy Spirit began to reveal to me the fully human side of Jesus as well. This Jesus, Who wept when His friend Lazarus died (John 11:35). The same Jesus, who in a fit of righteous anger overturned tables in the temple (Mark 11:15-18). Jesus, who pleaded with the Lord to take away the “cup” if it would be His will (Luke 22:42). A Jesus, who after fighting off the devil himself with truth in the wilderness, still needed angels to come and minister to Him (Matthew 4:11). Jesus obviously had human emotions, and I believe that He most certainly felt the sting of the absolute betrayal of one of His closest friends.

And yet….He loved Judas until the end. And He bent down to serve him.

I wondered, while marinating in this, if I could do the same.

(Are you ready for the vulnerability now?)

Maybe the Lord was preparing me for this, but my husband and I have had a certain amount of slander and betrayal come against us as of late. Of course it isn’t nearly as bad as Judas Iscariot selling out Jesus’ life for a bag of coins or someone trying to murder or abuse us physically…but it still shook us to the core, none-the-less.

Y’all, I’m not gonna lie – IT HURTS. I’m still processing it all, which is probably why I’m writing this out. I don’t have all the answers and everything figured out, but I finally have peace.

It hurts knowing that someone you love has spoken so very ill of you. That they refuse to talk it through or confront you. It hurts that they have spoken to MANY others and tried to turn others against you. People will always dislike you and say unkind things, but it’s quite painful because of the relationship. And to think of all of those who we have poured our lives out for who may have allowed seeds of doubt to be planted because of one person. My heart aches over this division.

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It’s painful and it’s hard and I wish it would have never happened…but I know that just like Jesus, I have a choice that I can make. It’s my choice to not allow myself to become jaded, or to not close off my heart to others (even those who “only listened” without shutting it down). It’s my choice to choose to love and to serve, regardless of how I feel when it’s most raw.

Jesus could have been jaded. The fully human part of Him could have drowned Himself in the emotion of the betrayal (Peter denied Him three times, the disciples fell asleep on Him just hours before He was captured, perhaps many of those who followed His teachings then turned to yell “crucify him” with the crowd). Yet because Jesus knew WHO HE WAS and WHY HE CAME to earth, He was willing to love until the very end. Even in His emotion and hurt, Jesus was no mere human.

And here’s the truth about ME: I am not a mere human either. My Bible says that as Jesus is, so am I (1 John 4:17). My Bible says all over Romans that I have the resurrection Spirit – the same Spirit that actually worked to raise Jesus from the dead – living within me! Galatians 2:20 says that I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer myself that lives, but Christ that lives inside of me. 2 Peter 1:4 says that I am a partaker in Jesus’ divine nature. I have the Holy Spirit, and He has given me everything that I need that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

“Everything” means everything…even the ability to forgive and choose to love and serve like Jesus.

God wired us as emotional beings, so I can definitely have emotions about this – but I can choose to process my emotions with the Father and allow Him to remind me who I am, and then allow Him to heal the hurt and then give me perspective straight from HIS heartbeat. I don’t have to be best friends with those who have hurt me, but I can walk in complete forgiveness, laying down my own agenda and rights, my own pain and heartbreak so that others can be free from the cage of judgment and anger that I put them in. Not to mention the torment I would experience if living in resentment and unforgiveness.

The words and actions of another do not define me. JESUS defines me.

And Jesus dealt with the betrayal, so now I can make the right choice.

As a child of God…as a minister of reconciliation…as a carrier of God’s glory…I can choose to wash their feet.

I believe that this is a taste of what choosing love looks like. I can only love because He first loved me (1 John 4:19) – and I’m so glad that He did!!!

Mandy Woodhouse

Email: [email protected]

www.daughterinthemeadow.com

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