When Doing Apologetics, Check Your Priorities
by Joel Settecase
Thinking about priorities
A note about priorities when doing apologetics: remember to keep the main thing, the main thing. The main thing, of course, is not us, our talents, our ability to reason, or our reputations. In fact, if we are not careful, an insidious desire for self-promotion can sneak its way into our philosophical and apologetical work and veer us wildly off course.
Our writing, speaking, and discussing with friends can become more about making ourselves appear ___(insert your favorite adjective here: smart, witty, knowledgeable, rational, un-crazy, reputable, well-read, etc.), and less about what should be every Christian’s ultimate goal: to bring other people into a meaningful and life-changing relationship with our Lord and savior Jesus the Messiah as we pursue such a relationship ourselves.
This message is timely as Good Friday approaches. In fact, it was reading the account of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in Mark chapter 14 that brought this lesson to mind.
Today’s apologist, tomorrow’s Judas?
Why did Judas end up betraying Jesus? How was he brought to that point? Judas’ desire for self-promotion became his top priority. Quick background on Judas: historians agree that he was probably a member of an extreme sects of ultra-zealots.* These “dagger-men” believed that they could usher in
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the revolutionary reign of the Messiah (prophesied king from David’s ancient line) by inciting rebellion among the people. Judas apparently joined Jesus’ team of disciples in order to benefit from a lofty position in Jesus’ expected earthly kingdom–you know, when Jesus usurped the Roman authorities and established Messianic rule.
Slowly, Judas began to realize that Jesus’ ministry was more about helping the poor enter the kingdom of heaven than helping the ambitious rein in the kingdom on earth, and he changed his approach. Judas was not about to wait for some pie-in-the-sky, by-and-by kingdom. He wanted prosperity and prestige, and he wanted them now. And so, Judas took the role as treasurer for the disciples. He used to embezzle from their treasury and line his pockets with funds that were supposed to go to the mission and the poor (cf. John 12:6).
Judas’ ambition–his desire to achieve his own ends–superseded his devotion to Jesus. From there, it was a short leap toward rejecting the Messiah and betraying him over to the religious and governmental mob…
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