The Worst in Others Can Bring Out the Best in Us

John Certalic-  www.caringforothers.org

In reading the first chapter of the Book of Acts, I find myself drawn to the Apostle Peter and two relational challenges he faced. It starts with Jesus abruptly returning to his home in heaven forty days after his resurrection. Imagine the sense of loss Peter and the others must have felt knowing their relationship with Jesus would never be the same. Most of us have experienced the painful loss of a relationship where an important person in our life leaves us for one reason or another. I can feel Peter’s hurt. Can you?

“What do we do now?” must have been on the minds and hearts of Jesus’ followers. Wisely, they stick together and 120 of them go to a meeting place where they pray. In the midst of great loss, hanging out with others to pray is always a good thing. Being in community takes the sting out of the loss when it’s shared with others.

There’s another sting to the story, for when Judas betrayed Jesus, he also betrayed the rest of the apostles. Judas was one of them. On the same team, with the same values and aspirations. He was part of “us against them” in Jesus’ relationship with the religious leaders of the day. Yet Judas went over to the the dark side. I imagine there must have been a lot of self-doubt in the remaining eleven. “Who’s going to betray us next?  Who can we trust now? We trusted him with all our money, and he did this? I thought we knew the guy. Why didn’t we see this coming?”

In comes Peter, in perhaps his finest hour as a leader. He tells the 120 gathered together what God says about their situation. Quoting from the Old Testament, Peter calls them to take action, to select a suitable man to replace Judas as the twelfth apostle. He sets the bar high, yet two good men are nominated. The disciples could have remained stuck in their grief over Jesus’ departure, or stuck in depression from Judas’ betrayal. They could have spiraled downward into viewing themselves as victims. But Peter would have none of it. He used the worst that Judas had to offer to bring out the best in himself, and the best in the remaining apostles and followers of Jesus.

The next time we suffer loss and betrayal, may we do what Peter did. Look at the situation from God’s perspective, pray in community where we can share our loss, and obey what scripture tells us to do. In doing so, the worst in others will bring out the best in ourselves.