Stand Back and Step Out
By Rebecca Sieg
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.” Matthew 5:38-42 MSG
Since I joined up, many years ago, I have enjoyed a good dose of social media in my day. A few minutes, set aside only for me, to look through each of my friends posts and pictures. To see the adorable photos of their children or pets.
To catch up on the local news. To find people I thought I would never hear from again. Social media, in the past, has been a quiet respite in my day.
And then things changed. The tone of social media morphed into something different. Where there were once cute pictures now there is tension and harsh words.
Where there was once laughter and levity now there is anger and weight. What once felt like a community, now feels like a bit like a battlefield. So how can we honor God in the current social media landscape?
In Matthew 5, Jesus is teaching to a large crowd that has gathered on the hillside, “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere?
Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.” (Matthew 5:38-42).
Jesus is making a couple of points here. First, we don’t get to engage. When someone hits us, we do nothing. Social media has been full of offense lately and sometimes it’s hard to know how to handle these situations, but Jesus is clear - our reaction is to do nothing.
As believers, we are called out of tit-for-tat relationships. We are no longer allowed to be governed by our reactions to them, rather we are required to love them by not responding to their offense.
Secondly, we offer profound love through action. We do the next thing. Jesus tells us to offer our best coat wrapped as a present when we are sued for the shirt off our back. He is reminding us to love in illogical ways.
To offer more when less is demanded. To forego our own ego, pride and needs and provide radical love to those around us.
We are to actively seek out ways to love others even when we feel wronged. Those who love Christ must step out, we must do the next thing.
Jesus’ message comes full circle. We are to both stand back and step out. We, as followers of Christ, shouldn’t be known for having the loudest voice, the quickest answers or the biggest egos rather we should seek to be known for having the fiercest love.
We live generously by loving others and encouraging them. As I look through my social media feed I will be seeking out ways to stand back and step out. Can I choose today to not engage in reactionary social media arguments? Can I find ways to encourage someone through the information I learn about them on social media?
Like Jesus taught on the hillside long ago - illogical love demands we both refrain from and pour into those people in our lives, including those people in our social media feeds. So stand back and step out. Start today.
Dear Heavenly Father, show us ways to stand back as we look through our social media feeds. Father, show us ways to step out, to love fiercely. Help us to view our social media feeds as access into the lives of others – access that helps us to love them. As Your beloved, so we may love others, show us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
© 2017 by Rebecca Sieg. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Tuesday, 27 June 2017.