Betrayed By A Friend!

It amazes me how often these questions from The Bridge relate directly to something happening in my life at the time. I ended up spending over half my day on Sunday helping a brother out in Cook County Jail. He had overreacted or wrongly reacted to a loved one who had ripped him off, taken advantage of him and played him. He thought he could trust her, but she betrayed him and played him for a fool, so he snapped. 

Unfortunately, I gotta be honest with you; This sort of dilemma happens time and time again at CCO, and it's always hard, very hard, to deal with. People build trust, they become friends and create bonds, only for one of them to end up getting ripped off, and to make it worse, it's often colored by countless lies and endless games! 

I've seen people want to kill or maim each other over this sort of drama. Especially when money's involved, everything starts going crazy. The rage starts, the intensity increases and revenge seems to be the only answer!

When people come to us at CCO, we tell them, never give your PIN numbers to anyone, don't tell others about your money, even people you think you can trust. It's dangerous. It's risky. We also tell them; If you do get ripped off, don't come crying to us. 

We may tell people this, but you know what, it happens anyway, and they come running to us. They're mad, so they want justice, they want vengeance, they want revenge; but because they gave away their info, we or the police, can't do much about it. 

I remember these 2 families that were super tight, they'd known each other for years, brought up in the same neighorhood and were united again at Cornerstone. Everything was cool, they were doing everything together; both good and bad! Then one day, one of the families gives the wife of the other family their Link Card, with specific instructions of what to get at the store. 

That's when the drama started, she didn't come back when she said she would. When she did arrive, there was no money on the card, no money in her hand and no groceries, but she did have glazed eyes and a big elaborate story. She tells everyone how she was robbed in an alley, how her life was in danger and other things. 

From there, everything escalated. These families were yelling and screaming, there was a lot of vulgar language and name calling, the husbands wanted to fight, the kids disappeared, and the wives were egging on their husbands. Thankfully, this conflict didn't go to blows, but they now had a tainted relationship. They wanted us to solve it. They wanted us to miraculously make this money reappear. They wanted us to make this lady say what really went on.

In the past, I used to make a big mistake, I'd try and convince the person playing the games to tell the truth. I'd try to make that person change, but I'd fail repeatedly. I'd push and push, and the more I'd push, the more elaborate their story would end up. I'd see their contradictions, but they'd keep on rolling with their stories. With these 2 families, there was absolutely no way this lady was going to tell the truth, she was not going to admit she'd ripped her friends off. She just kept living in the lie. Only she and God knew what really happened.

Tonight, I want to highlight 3 things I've learnt over the years, when dealing with situations of betrayal like these. 

1: We cannot make others change....

We do not have that power! We cannot control people! People make their own decisions! Sometimes they will listen, but normally, when people have started lying, cheating and scheming, people are going to keep lying, cheating and scheming. Unfortunately, they dig themselves into a deeper, darker hole, and we need to be wise, and make the needed adjustments, so we won't get exploited again.

Let me tell you, and from my experience, it's torture trying to convince those stuck in the lie to step out of the lie and into the truth. I've tried, it just isn't fun. When we think we have the power to change people and they don't change, we're going to feel guilty and defeated. 

It is good to speak truth into people's lives, but it isn't our job to twist people's arms into submission. If we do that, people will often run away. This is a never ending lesson I keep on having to learn time and time again. 

It's like trying to convince an alcoholic to stop drinking, that person knows he needs to stop, but until he's ready, he won't stop drinking. It's the same with players! When we speak the truth and they don't listen, we cannot take it personally and we should not feel guilty, such a burden is too much to carry. And the truth is; they are often hurting themselves far more than they're hurting us. 

We have to remember, we do not have the power to make people change.

2: Let go and let God....

When people won't listen and keep on lying, leave them in God's hands. Pray for them. Let God do His work. 

When a guy comes into our office at CCO and we know he's lying through his teeth. He's telling elaborate story after story, and he's not ready to hear the truth or be real. We know he's lying, in fact, his lies are so bad that you just want to shake him. We got a saying that we frequently use; we simply say, "They're not ready yet" and leave them in God's hands. 

I've busted too much sweat and lost too much sleep over the years trying to change people that aren't ready to be changed. But God tells us, "that's not your job, leave them to me!" God will do his work in his time and at His pace.

The apostle Paul said in Romans 12:18-19If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 

This isn't easy, because when we've been exploited or betrayed, we want the truth, we want justice, we want revenge, and we want it now! But Paul is telling us, "Let go, and Let God!" Let God handle it. Don't end up in prison or hurt, because some fool is playing you. Let God handle it; He knows the truth, he knows what to do, He knows how to handle the situation, He loves you and He loves your friend. He knows what's best and His timing is perfect! 

3: Overcome evil with good....

I know it's not easy to leave people in God's hands. Especially those who are lying in your face and ripping you off. Paul knew this too, when we "let go and let God", what are we supposed to do? Paul doesn't tell us to ignore them, no, instead he tells us something very humbling, he follows his last statement with these 2 verses.... 

On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:20-21 NIV)

Our job isn't to rally up a few friends and a couple of baseball bats, our job isn't to exact revenge, no, our job is to forgive and love! In fact, Paul tells us to surprise them with compassion. Feed them. Give them a drink. Meet their needs. As God does His work, as God works out what's best, our job is to simply shower them with love and compassion. 

I know this doesn't make sense. I know compassion in these situations seems impossible. We want a wrong righted. We want revenge and revenge is sweet, right? But often, what Jesus wants us to do, doesn't make sense! He flips things around. We wanna hurt the fool playing with us, but instead, we're told to show compassion. Paul tells us, "in doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head!" Compassion shocks. Compassion surprises. Compassion changes things. 

As God does His thing, we need to do ours; we need to be compassionate and love our enemies. This is the power of love, this is the power of His kingdom, this is the power of God! Next time someone betrays you, don't end up in jail like my friend did last Sunday, instead, let God do His work, be compassionate to them and overcome evil with good.

In closing, I want to encourage us all with verse 18: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone, and verse 21: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

A brief summary of why I wrote this: There's a ministry on the West-side of Chicago called Mission:USA; every Tuesday night they have a Church service called The BRIDGE. Their services are open to everybody, but especially those who find it hard to gel in their local congregations! Or to put into cruder terms; a lot of these men and women are ex-offenders, homeless and low-income folk who have felt ostracized and rejected by many churches, so their mission is to be a bridge between prison, the streets and the Church. The Bridge helps these wonderful men and women find churches that will welcome them with open arms.....
And isn't this exactly what the Gospel and the "Kingdom of God" is all about?

Every Tuesday night, The Bridge has a host team from a Church, who greet the guests and provide a meal. The guests anonymously submit questions about their "walk of faith", and staff from The Bridge pick out a relevant question. Meanwhile, they have invited 3 pastors from 3 different churches to come and give a 10 minute sermon each about this specific question or topic. In my humble opinion, this is a great concept and ministry, who's staff is very loving, compassionate and supportive to the "least of these".

This was a sermon preached on 5/5/15, in response to this question;“Betrayed By A Friend!”

 What should you do if someone that you’ve been friends with betrays you? What do you do when they continue to betray you, even when you help them out, and let them use your credit card, and they lie about using it, but you know they were the last one to have it? What should I do with this person? We’ve been friends for years.

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