I’m going to try not to step off in “it” this morning with this one, but I read this in my Bible study group last week and it hit home. Many things in the Bible do need to be read in context so I’ll do my best to set the scene and be brief simultaneously.
Jesus spoke these words to his disciples as he was instructing them to spread the gospel to those who hadn’t heard throughout different countries. He told them not to bring any necessities but instead rely on people in the towns who were willing to house and feed them. Eek, can you imagine going on a trip packing nothing and hoping strangers will house and feed you? These definitely are different times. In the verse above (Luke 9:5), Jesus is telling them not to waste their time with people who refuse to listen, hence the “shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” A dear friend in my Bible study group hilariously pointed out that Taylor Swift should attribute Jesus to her “Shake It Off” song, meanwhile my ’90s child brain went to “Shake Dem Haters Off”. Oops, didn’t realize there was already some litigation surrounding this song. Ha! Jokes on them, turns out JESUS said them FIRST!
So let’s circle back around and close the loop on why this verse is important, or why it meant so much to me last week. Let’s talk social media friends, the ones that have slid into the acquaintance category. The ones you’ve known in the past, but probably couldn’t carry a long conversation with should you meet in public. I ran into one of these in a store last week, both of us seeing each other, neither of us making the effort to communicate. The thought baffled me and then the question arose in my head, “Why are we social media friends then?” Is it a fake friendship we’re trying to piece together? I don’t think so, no. In fact, the last time we even exchanged any form of communication on the internet it was strained and verged on an argument revolving around current events. So what are we doing here? Neither of us were getting anywhere near the other’s points of view and I could no longer remember what we agreed on anymore.
As an aside, I think Christians get saddled with that we’re supposed to be friendly to all and accepting all forms of treatment of us with a smile. In some ways it is, heck most disciples died from persecution because they were Jesus’ followers. Jesus told us that we were going to be an enemy of the world and that it wouldn’t be easy to follow Him. But as humans we aren’t perfect and loads of times our imperfections are what separate us from the throne of grace. So how can we emulate Jesus in an imperfect world? Another “there is no short answer”. Or maybe there is no easy answer other than to do our best in each situation. Not one size fits all, even in most cases.
Whew, ok I’m not trying to get theological here, I didn’t go to seminary, but these are the kinds of conversations we have in my Bible study group that we constantly try to find answers to and to challenge each other with hard questions and answers. I am trying to be transparent though, so what did I do after seeing this person in the store? I defriended her. Ouch, I know, maybe it wasn’t the right choice and was done hastily because I was reminded of the argument we had on the internet and was stung. (Arguing on the internet, never a good idea). However, I don’t regret it, the defriending part. I imagine Daniel trying to remain social media friends with king Nebuchadnezzar. The thought makes me giggle. Now this person didn’t want me dead, but what would it gain if we remained friends? It’s a constant temptation situation of not getting in an argument, so I removed myself from the situation. Which affirms to me what God says in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Again, Jesus said, “If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So I left her town (of social media).