The spiritual condition produced by a demonic influence in one of Jesus’ original disciples continues to manifest against His disciples today, particularly, against His apostolic and prophetic leaders as foundational leaders of kingdom establishing and expansion. The rejection of Jesus in modern American culture exacerbates this spiritual condition, feeding its boldness, and opening doors for it to function within kingdom leaders as much as it operates against them from the outside.
Lord, Is It I?
When Jesus sat down to a last meal with His core leadership team, the progress of the meal introduced two or three important moments of kingdom clarity. Before Jesus washed their feet, however, He made a statement of fact that rippled around the table and altered the posture of every disciple with whom He was sharing the supper.
Jesus says, “One of you will betray Me.”
Imagine how that statement impacted the room for a moment. Picture the awkward atmosphere adjustment, like a dance choreographed by the music of revelation, as twelve apostolic leaders resting on their elbows with pieces of bread heavy with sauce dangling from their fingers, went silent, frozen by the doom of discovery.
Each of them – not just Judas but John, James, and Jude with all the others – gulped with apprehension and asked, “Lord, is it I?”
You see this Judas spirit, a term we use to describe the betrayal actions and activities of an inner circle leader who turns tailcoat on his assignment, worked against every one of them, and at times had revealed identical sentiments in their hearts that drove Iscariot’s son into actions of hellish consequences.
Their collective “Lord, is it I?” reveals the question marks of their individual considerations about obedience and submission, the give and take of internal confusion that becomes a fountainhead for decision-making. They were each wondering still, “What’s in this for me?”
That is the Judas spirit in a nutshell. That issue plagued His disciples, even John who laid his head on His chest. Certainly, Simon Peter knew the influence of this spiritual condition when He rebuked – yes, he rebuked – the Lord’s confession of death and resurrection because it failed Simon own “What’s in this for me?” test of acceptability. The Zealot did not see the scenario producing his desired end of revolution. The Greek did not see how this would alter the social consciousness. The thunder’s sons felt that their left and right positioning staggered. Matthew thought perhaps his initial enthusiasm misplaced.
They had their doubts but one of them would act upon his doubts in a more sinister way.
The Judas Conundrum
Kingdom leaders today face the same spiritual condition, and the manner in which they respond produces strong waves of beachhead erosion once their decisions hit the people involved in their mini-movements. While kingdom leaders receive assignments that press them to develop mini-movements for the kingdom movement, they, too, feel the filter system of “what’s in this for me?” straining and sifting what other leaders and mini-movements are doing. Immediately they sense that another assignment may gain an advantage, like James and John, they seek to secure their left and right positioning. Immediately they see opportunity in the momentum of another move of God they step up to clarify how any move of God serves their own sense of “what we should all be doing to get this thing going.” Immediately they observed a pull back or persecution occurrence that might touch their base or a shift of momentum or bright light of revival that might distract or “pull on” their base, they position themselves with “what’s in this for me?” fully in view.
“If you can’t beat’em, join’em” sums up Judas’ basic motivations very well; Judas Iscariot finally followed the consequences of his long-held and more fully developed sentiments when he considered that Jesus apparently had no good future in which Judas could mine some gold for himself. (“This gig is up, so I’m cashing in.”)
Silly Sentiments and Judas
When the moves of God allow for “bandwagoning” popularity as a mark of momentum, measuring how many registered for the latest of our big show conferences, they play right into this Judas spirit’s hands!
People motivated by “what’s in this for me” will always run to the next big thing to experience the next cool experience. When they have run the table on that parlor game, they look for the next “glory show on tour” and hop around from limb to limb as if kingdom were an arcade. Being silent about this reveals a Judas spirit toleration. Manipulating it and cashing it on it because it seems to give your assignment momentum or validity or a “one-up” is purely and nakedly Judas in action! You are prostituting your nearness to Jesus, your hand in His purse, your heart still your own!
Judas remained attracted by the possibility that Jesus would be the One to bring it all together but became wary when the crowds did not buy into the expectations Judas set for Jesus. Judas operated with political aims and welcomed the kingdom aspect of things as long as helping the poor, sick, demonized, and discouraged seemed to present opportunities for his personal success. Judas was as modern as the “I’m here to see my personal destiny fulfilled” crowd that flocks to the conferences hoping to get the word, the touch, the experience, the moment of breakthrough that will launch their fantasies of fame. When Jesus says, “Die to live,” Judas starts wondering where Jesus is going with this kingdom movement. He begins to posture himself in a way that he has an exit plan.
Judas is only in for what good for him, never to his own hurt.
No kingdom leader can remain true to his or her calling when he or she refuse to be “in this thing even to my own hurt!”
When little men cast long shadows, you know the sun is setting. When silly sentiments dominate the landscape of mini-movements with promises of bright lights, my own video of masterful miracles, “I’ll be the next recording star they champion,” and “this is where the real move of God is,” the Judas spirit grows heavy with muscled prowess and start mainlining on pride.
Judas and False Unity
“If it keeps getting bigger and bigger” does not describe the move of God that will disciple a culture. The accumulation of anything cannot be the descriptor of our measurement of success. The development of leaders is the only consistent kingdom capacity quantifier. Never allow the enemy to say, “If you had more, you could succeed.” That sentiment never comes from God.
The difference between unity and oneness helps us understand the difference between the accumulation of something and the development of leaders. Accumulating points of light, lists of names, amounts of money, enumerated locations, or signatures of support reflects nothing compared to developing leaders with shared assignments.
Judas had an assignment and left it for his “what’s in this for me?” pursuit of selfishness.
Beware the motivations that measure your commitment to Jesus by measuring what Jesus can do for you and your destiny. Turn your back on it as Jesus did upon Simon Peter and say, “Get behind me, satan! For you savor the things of man more than the things of God!”
Beware the obvious play upon your baser impulses made by organizers. If it is Christianized entertainment, it is not sin. Our goal of kingdom culture should include the diversion of kingdom displays of creativity and art. Go, pay, enjoy, and go home happy! However, never, never, never substitute entertainment for worship that demands All. Never allow yourself to use worship experiences as a source of enjoyment and declare that you are fulfilling the first and great commandment when your heart remains fully set upon “what’s in this for me?” You can measure this easily by “will I remain in this to my own hurt because I am assigned by God?” That is kingdom!
We tried unity for the sake of unity in the 90’s. Did not work out so well because it required a remarkably low level of kingdom commitment to achieve. We ended up selling out the purpose for unity for the sake of unity and bought into accumulation as a signal virtue. “Once we get all the pastors together, then God will move.” God did not move. “Once we get all the intercessors on the same page, we will win.” We did not win. “Once we get all the churches together, we will have unity.” We had more division.
Why? Because the leaders who came together did so with “what’s in this for me?” as a backstop for their coming together. They came together only after being convinced this might serve to make their city, church, or themselves more successful at their definition of success. They would not remain in it to their own hurt because it was right, godly, or consistent with kingdom. They would remain on the fringe, less than fully committed with a “wait and see” posture until they could tell how this would benefit their own assignments and destinies.
These sentiments cannot motivate people to establish kingdom because they oppose the heart of kingdom covenant: “Love the Lord your God will All. Love your neighbor as yourself.” Passion for purpose alone can produce kingdom oneness. Unity is never the goal of God. Judas loves unity. God loves oneness.
Judas Obeys but Never Submits
Jesus hit the heart of this spirit solidly enough in His teaching but crushed its head with His obedience and submission. Judas may obey, but Judas never submits. When Jesus moves to Last Supper statements of intent and the price of “following Him to your own hurt,” He knows that the Judas spirit, the demonic infiltration and influence close to Him and His assignment, will reach its apex of activity. He knows Judas Iscariot represents an activity of this spirit that reveals the influence of this spirit in every reclining around the table.
“Lord, is it I?” They each respond to His confrontation with the spirit operating with Judas’ acquiescence.
Judas volunteers to submit to the spirit while openly obeying Jesus. He is at the table. He is carrying the bag to pay for the meal. While he reclines, however, he remains submitted to another spirit, for another purpose, with another heart.
The other eleven remain submitted to Jesus and His assignment but not fully submitted to His strategy, but that is a subject for another time…
Beware the religious sentiment that uses obedience as a substitute for submission. Remember the total sum of the Covenant is passionate, sacrificial, self-eclipsing love for God that submits All, a passion that properly resets every relationship of life so you can love your neighbor as yourself.
The Judas spirit hates submission and tolerates obedience when it deems obedience might still get “what’s in this for me.”