Friday, June 10, 2011

Betrayal

Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. (Genesis 25:34 NAS)

Peace ChildIn the book Peace Child by Canadian Christian missionary Don Richardson, the author shared about his experience working among the Sawi tribal people of New Guinea. The Sawi for centuries have lived as cannibal-headhunters warring against each other’s villages and living by the ideal of what is called tuwi asonai man, which translated means to fatten with friendship for unexpected slaughter. In this practice, warriors persuade a man to become their friend with the intention of killing and eating him later. The more complicated the plan, the more honorable the warrior becomes among his own village. Revenge and murders followed in succession between the victims’ villages, which then become an endless cycle of violence.

After Richardson learned the language of the Sawi, he began sharing with them the story of Jesus. The Sawi however were not interested in the gospel, but brightened up when Richardson related the account of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in which they acclaimed Judas as a super-Sawi and hero of the story. Feeling he had failed in his mission and blaming himself as the cause of more conflicts and Sawi killings because of his presence, Richardson decided to leave. Not wanting to lose their source of modern medicine and steel axes, the warriors then told Richardson they would make peace.

The one and only guarantee that all Sawi will honor in bringing about peace is an exchange of infants between villages. This practice is called tarop tim, which translated means peace child. As long as the peace child lives, peace is guaranteed. While any other murder is regarded as honorable to the Sawi, killing a peace child is considered a despicable act. That was the key Richardson was waiting for as he presented Jesus as God's Peace Child who never dies and therefore guarantees everlasting peace. Many of the Sawi were transformed by the message and soon churches sprang up in every village.

Like the way the Sawi were ready to sellout themselves to a life of revenge and violence, and their ‘friends’ for the slaughter, the Bible also mentioned a person who was willing to sellout his spiritual inheritance for a meal. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for bread and lentil stew (Genesis 25:29-34). His lack of discretion and regard for his spiritual inheritance were equated as immoral and godless, for when he desired to inherit the blessing later, he was rejected because he found no place for repentance (Hebrews 12:16-17). Likewise for Judas Iscariot who betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-15). It would have been better for him if he had not been born (Matthew 26:24).

Are we like the Sawi, Judas or Esau, ready to betray or sellout someone or give up our birthright as children of God just to achieve our personal goals? Do we, like the Sawi or even Judas, build up relationships to gain advantage through the one we know or betray a ‘friend’ for monetary or other gains? If we befriend a person who is rich, powerful or popular just to have unfair advantage or opportunity in getting what we want, then we are not much different from the Sawi or Judas. If we are willing to give up our faith just to save ourselves from trouble, persecution or the likes, then we are not worthy to be our Lord’s disciples (Matthew 16:24-25; Luke 14:27). Woe to us if we betray or sellout anyone or our faith, for as soon as we deal treacherously, others will deal treacherously with us too (Isaiah 33:1), like the endless cycle of revenge in the Sawi culture.

Let us therefore never ever deal treacherously or take advantage of the people around us, or befriend someone out of ulterior motives. Let us instead lead them to the One true Peace Child who never dies and guarantees everlasting peace.

Dear Lord, forgive us for sometimes making friends or building relationships out of ulterior motives. Help us Lord never to deal treacherously or sellout our faith for personal gains or just to avoid trouble, persecution or inconvenience. Keep us mindful Lord of the consequences we have to bear should we in our carelessness fail to value our spiritual inheritance. Thank You Lord for being the ultimate Peace Child who guarantees everlasting peace with God to all who believe in You.

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