Beware

Look Out, as Friends May Stab You in the Back!

Ed, my neighbor next door, does not take criticism well. Like most of us, he is much better at giving blame than receiving it. My neighbor has been bowling with a friend for years but recently their friendship ruptured like a loud sounding gutter ball. When Ed was telling me about it, I asked if it happened around the Ides of March. Things have been known to go all wrong on the fifteenth of March. I was referring to Julius Caesar being stabbed to death in a meeting of the Senate on March 15, 44 B.C. It was such a great act of betrayal lead by his trusted friends Brutus and Cassius, that even to this day people say, “Beware the Ides of March.”  March 15th is seen as a reminder that even your most trusted friends may betray you and your most permanent relationships may shatter to pieces without warning.

My referral to the stabbing of Julius Caesar resulted in Ed getting angry at me. He said, “Who cares what happened in 44 B.C.? Caesar probably deserved a knife in the back. I’m the victim, and my friend was the problem.” Ed ended by saying that it wasn’t worth the effort of complaining to me. All he wanted me to do was confirm that his friend was out of line. I disappointed Ed as usual, but it didn’t matter much to him. Since a trusted friend had stabbed him with words, he had to decide if he would forgive his friend or forget him.

Getting along with family, friends, work associates and neighbors has it highs and lows. When relationships shatter is there enough glue to put them back together again? Hurt, disappointment, resentment, anger, and revenge are powerful feelings and motivations within us. In human relationships, the need to be right, to dominate, to control, to hate and to murder are big winners. Many will admit that it is easier to see what is wrong with others rather than what is right with them. Betrayal stabs its way through family members, friends, work associates, and neighbors. It isn’t totally absent from Christian congregations.

Even the disciples of Jesus were not above resentments among themselves. In the gospel of Mark, James and John the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus and wanted Jesus to do whatever they asked him. Jesus said to them tell me what you want me to do for you. They wanted one of them to sit on his right and one on his left when Jesus came into his glory. They wanted special recognition as the two apostles closest to Jesus. Power, position, and special recognition motivate people to betray their friends. People want more recognition than others, even their family members, friends, fellow workers and neighbors. Wanting more honor than others also happens in Christian fellowships.

Jesus told James and John that God the Father, not himself, will give the seating order in glory. Jesus also pointed out that God’s way is not about being greater than others, but being a servant. Jesus taught greatness before God is serving others not ruling over them. Jesus served God and sinners and gave his life as a ransom for many when he was here on earth.

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Raymond Maher
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