Judas Iscariot is the scoundrel of the Scriptures.
Jesus taught him, loved him, and invested in him for three years. One day Jesus even took the role of the most lowly servant and washed Judas’ filthy feet. Judas was in ministry with Jesus but did not love Jesus, and all the while he pretended to be a friend of Jesus. Long before he betrayed Jesus with the kiss that led to the crucifixion (Matthew 26:16), Judas was on the path to act as Satan’s double agent.
If the life of Judas played out today, the headlines would read that he was yet another religious hypocrite. But Judas was not a Christian hypocrite. He was a non-Christian hypocrite. And there are people like him today. Instead of undergoing an inner transformation they run the other way. Instead of believing in Jesus they reject the essential bullet points of our faith. So, by no stretch of God’s gracious imagination are these people Christians. But we as limited human beings cannot always discern that. My point? Beware of imposters. Do not blame God or other Christians for their deceit.
Judas represents a category of people we should all be aware of. They sort of act like Christians and maybe smell like Christians, but that in no way means they are Christians. The Bible’s prime example is Judas Iscariot.
Judas hanged himself in one of the more gory scenes of the Bible (Acts 1:18). Just because Judas never changed, never returned to Jesus, and never apologized does not mean that all individuals antagonistic to the Christian faith are beyond hope. It might just mean we all start in a different spot.
In an effort to determine the most common objections to Christianity I commissioned a massive research project. Almost half of our survey participants (45%) agreed with the statement “Most Christians are hypocrites.” But, we must never forget that some people follow Judas while falsely claiming to follow Jesus.
I was a non-Christian hypocrite. My mother was a Catholic Christian, but as I entered my teen years I had no interest in mimicking her Christian faith. Because I did not want to upset my mom, I attended church with her on holidays and was careful to never fully disclose that my disinterest sometimes bordered on disdain. Then in high school I met a pastor’s daughter who asked if I was a Christian. I did not give her question much deep thought and said yes to increase the odds that she would go out with me. It took a while for me to come around to authentic faith.
I remember being a non-Christian and having Christians invite me to their church. One youth group did it to score points in a contest to win a big thick study Bible wrapped in dead cow. No joke. But others expended themselves to clue me in about what was happening and why. A non-Christian entering the world of church is like a tourist visiting a country with strange words and customs. Without a tour guide, it is easy to get confused, lost, and end up feeling unsafe. The Bible repeatedly commands Christians to be hospitable. We are to welcome strangers and love them as friends as a reflection of how God in Christ welcomed us into friendship with himself.