I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.
I reread through Nik Ripken’s article, Dealing with Judas, this week as some situations that have come up in recent days within our context made me think about the possibility of a Judas within our midst. In reading through this article it became clear that the question is not whether or not there will be a Judas, but expect there to be a Judas when planting house churches in hard to reach areas, especially amongst Muslims.
Ripken's article gives three examples that are common around the world, especially with Muslim background believers, of dealing with Judas type situations. Ripken not only makes the church aware of the Judas that is always in the room, but he clearly and sufficiently explains how to respond to the Judas in light of the biblical record and modeling Jesus as he responded to his Judas. Ripken proceeds by modeling out six ways to respond to Judas that will facilitate the growth and the health of the gospel amongst churches.
First, expect to find Judas within the inner circle. Ripken’s point is if Jesus did not avoid Judas from his inner group, then why should we think our group would be different? Ripken pointed out the commonality when a Judas will show up often as a church is being planted or significant growth appears. The presence of a Judas is many times a clear sign that the Holy Spirit is at work. This being said, a Judas almost serves as a signal to a church plant or movement that God is at work.
Second, expect Judas to grow up within the movement-taking place. Although Ripken points out through interviews with Chinese house church leaders that often times their Judas’ were coming from the outside and were let in, but that is not the picture Jesus represent for the church. Jesus chose Judas as one of the closest followers. That is the reason it has to be assumed that there will be a Judas amongst our midst, even if it is those we choose to walk next to us.
Third, we can model Jesus by dealing with Judas; there is no need to push him onto others. This might be one of the hardest things to do, because it maybe the person that walked closest with us who we considered our disciple who betrays us. Ripken shows here that the heart of biblical disciple making is made possible here as one confronts and deals appropriately with the betrayer.
Fourth, learn to recognize Judas early. This can be a very difficult task to do, but by recognizing the betrayer early gives an advantage to discern the heart, intent, and methods of the betrayer. By recognizing these three things it makes it so we can assist with the process of dealing with Judas and not allowing him to betray the group.
Fifth, Judas often has money issues. Ripken labels this as “Jesus plus syndrome.” More often then not the Judas is an individual who wants to come to Jesus because of all the other things that Jesus brings in this persons mind, such as a spouse, job, and a education. This is a clear indication that there is not desire to take up their cross and follow Jesus.
Sixth, revealing Christ in the way that you deal with Judas. Ripken reminds believers that it is not an enjoyable experience to find a Judas in your midst, but as you do and how you deal with the Judas can be a crucial tipping point. Unfortunately a Judas can determine if the church continues on into Pentecost or destroy the work of a decade. By following the biblical model of Jesus and implementing Ripken’s advice, will help assist churches through the future to recognize those as Judas and how to deal with them appropriately.