When You Unfollow Jesus

The Facebook tool that I have used the most lately has been the "Unfollow" tool.  

If you don't know about it, let me share.  It's a tool that enables you to stop seeing posts from one of your Facebook friends who constantly posts things that make you crazy, without unfriending them.   

So you can still be "friends" with them, but you don't have to see any of their posts anymore... ever.  

I got to thinking deeply about the implications of this over the past week after I angrily "unfollowed" a handful of people who (in my humble opinion) had gone over the edge of decency with their posts.

I thought it was a win-win situation.  I wouldn't have to see evidence of the opinions they held that I found distasteful and disappointing, but I didn't have to remove them from my "friends," which may have hurt their feelings.  

But then I had to ask myself this challenging question: Were we really "friends" if I could no longer see any of their posts?  

What about their life events?  Challenges they were facing?  What chance at any kind of true connection could we have if I couldn't see any of the things they were posting beyond the political stuff?  

Then I got to thinking about Jesus, which is what you do if you're me.  Not because I'm holy, but because I'm decidedly not holy.  

You see, it's those kinds of revelatory moments that give me the chance to see how (according to Fr. Richard Rohr) the way I do anything is the way I  do everything.  

When I cut people off because their opinions make me uncomfortable, I deny myself the opportunity to see beyond the opinions and experience their true humanity.  

So how does this relate to Jesus?  It's simple.  Jesus never cut anybody off because of their opinions.  He always gazed deeply into their life and saw them as worthy of grace and love.  Jesus didn't shy away from disagreeing with them, mind you.  But he didn't "unfollow" them---he didn't cut them off from his life.  

And Jesus taught us to do the same.  

This is a true statement:  Whether it's reposting crazy, outlandish "news" stories that they believe to be true, or some hateful meme or another, far too many of our Christian friends seem to be doing everything they can to distance themselves from Jesus. 

This is also a true statement: When we choose to cut ourselves off from them, we are essentially "unfollowing" Jesus as a result.  

I know that it is difficult to stay connected to people with whom you have deep and fundamental disagreements.  Trust me, I feel it, too.  But even the angriest, most vitriolic, and even hateful things they might say or post on social media are instructive.  

They give you an opportunity to demonstrate the kind of grace you've been afforded.  They also give you a chance to see how quickly you can become the very thing you fear by following the same path. 

There's also this... that post, that angry statement, that awful forwarded email they sent... those things are not the sum total of who they are as a human being.  They are in progress, just as you are.  They need grace, just as you do.  

And who knows?  Your kindness, your grace, your forbearance in disagreement could be one of the many ways that God is chipping away at the walls around their heart.  

May you seek to follow rather than unfollow Jesus during these troubling times.  May you show love and patience as much as you are able.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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