Just Put It Down
Jesus sat in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, just a few dozen yards off the shore. Hundreds gathered along the lakefront, hungry to hear what the teacher had to say. They needed a word of hope. Just as Jesus opened his mouth to teach his cell phone went off. “Just a minute”, he told the crowds, “I need to get this.”
Jesus and his disciples entered the city of Jericho and the crowds gathered to greet him. Among them was a tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus. While he was just a wee little man Zacchaeus had a growing hunger to know more about this prophet named Jesus, and so he climbed a sycamore tree to get a better view as Jesus passed by. But Jesus never saw him because he was too busy texting a friend.
Jesus sat at the dinner table, enjoying a feast at the invitation of a number of religious leaders. A woman of ill-repute snuck into the party and began to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiping them dry with her hair. The religious leaders were offended, but Jesus didn’t notice. He was too busy updating his Facebook status.
These scenarios are absurd, aren’t they? Obviously social media wasn’t around 2,000 years ago, but if it had been it’s hard to imagine Jesus choosing to engage with his smartphone rather than the people right before him. And yet we see Christ-followers doing just that on a regular basis. Some of us are those very disciples. We convey that the person sitting across from us is unimportant, that the meeting we’re attending doesn’t matter, that the safety of the drivers around us is inconsequential, that the stranger in our midst is invisible.
I confess. I love technology. I love connectivity. I love my smartphone. But I want my life to communicate that I love people more, starting with the people right in front of me and all around me. Is that true for you, too? Then just put your smartphone or tablet down. Stop making excuses. Start engaging with the people that God has put right in front of you. You’re living witness will convey far more than your Facebook status.
What might have to change in your media habits to align your actions with your desired witness?
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.