Like many of us, I am familiar with Jesus’ words that come at the end of Matthew 28. Here, He says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus is commanding His followers – all believers – to tell everyone about Him and His work. This is known as the Great Commission.
Several times, though, throughout the gospels, Jesus’ command is different. He tells those impacted by His ministry to NOT tell anyone of what He has done. We find this in today’s reading, in which Jesus says, “…tell no one” (Mark7:36). Why would He say this? Why would He want someone not to share?
I have been thinking about this for a few days, and I haven’t come up with an answer. But thinking about this verse has made me wonder if perhaps some experiences are too sacred to be shared.
I don’t know that we, in our social-media-saturated world, have a good grasp on this. We live in a world in which it is common to post all of the events of our lives from the mundane to the extraordinary. And often, this is good. Social media can help us to regularly connect with family and friends in ways that were impossible in years past.
But I am wondering – in our online lives and in our real-life lives, do we need to practice pausing before we post, and before we speak? I know that I do.
Pausing and slowing down have been themes of my writing this past year. Slow down when I read my Bible in order to let the words truly sink in. Slow down when I think, in order to take the time to thoroughly consider whatever I am pondering. And slow down before I speak, in order that my words are intentional and life-giving rather than hasty and potentially harmful. Writing this year has been good for me, if for no other reason than this gentle reminder: slow down.
And don’t we all need that slowing-down, especially right now, in the midst of a busy Christmas season? Listen to David’s words in Psalm 131: “I have calmed and quieted my soul” (Psalm 131:2). Recently, after a few unusually busy weeks, I have implemented a new daily practice. Mid-afternoon, when I am home, I do what I call a “full stop”. I make myself a cup of tea, and I sit on the couch or on the porch or now, in this Christmas season, on the window seat next to our Christmas tree. I stop, and I rest. I sit in the quiet. And it has been so good for me, so good for my soul.
My prayer for all of us in our reading community during this busy season is that we each practice taking time every day to simply sit and rest, and that little by little we would build this calming practice into a daily habit that brings us a bit of peace into our days.