Distractions: Wasting Time When The Days Are Evil
Luke 10:3. “... and greet no one along the road.”
Like the 70 sent (Luke 10:1-12), we’re sent out as lambs among wolves. Never has this been as obvious as now, during what is perceived by many as the culmination of all things. We may want to examine some of the less obvious disguises of such wolves, as Jesus points them out here, especially in this little phrase about greetings along the road, which we might tend to overlook or regard as unimportant. Actually there’s much to be seen in this small phrase.
Checking with numerous Bible commentaries reveals an interesting detail. In the ancient Middle East, one did not just ignore, nod at, or offer a quick hello to passers by along the road. Greetings involved somewhat elaborate rituals and there were expectations of proper conversation. There were all sorts of gestures, bowing depending on degree of social status, hand clasps, and kissing of hands and faces. Conversations involved much more than, “Hi, how are you?” There was a mutual discussion on one’s own and one’s family’s wellbeing, activity, and other news about everyone. A gab and gossip fest. This took a lot of time and may also have been a means of ascertaining the intentions of those one greeted.
When we see Jesus approaching the two who were headed for Emmaus, who began discussing with Him the events of the crucifixion, right after His resurrection, He was invited not only to share a meal but to stay the night, since it was getting late. These customs were common to the region. It was more or less the expectation. Care for the stranger was part of the Law and custom of hospitality, as they recalled being foreigners and sojourners in many lands.
Food for thought, as Jesus tells His disciples not to do this at this point. There goes Jesus, bucking Tradition again! But He had His reasons.
How great a distraction to the mission on which He sends them these friendly loiterings might have been! They were to be the heralds of His arrival whee He sent them, and He was quite specific about their approach and activity. They were to stay in the homes of the “sons of peace,” but not to go house to house.
But here we run up against the “tyranny” of custom, etiquette and tradition which could majorly slow down and bog down how, where, and why He sent them. Might it be worth considering what forms of tyranny of custom the days before us hold, which have the potential of dismantling that for which Christ sends us?
Other “wolves” can be concerns about money, more baggage than is necessary for the journey and the job, being fashionable, and the already mentioned enormous time waster (at least in this context) of ritualistic social expectations. Jesus was quite as specific in His instructions for those chosen for this as He had been with potential aspirants to the work (see Luke 9:57-62).
Could it be that the devil uses all of these to slow the process and progress of the Kingdom of God, as he knows that this means the end of his game?
Could it be that when the mission focus gets blurred by these “good” things that we are robbed of Christ’s authority over “serpents and scorpions,” (not literal, but representing Satanic powers in certain categories of demons) and there are no miracles and healings, although Jesus warns of gloating over them when they happen? (Not the Benny Hinn sort of tricks and deceptions.)
Distractions reign in this carnal, pleasure oriented, entertainment focused culture. Then this mentality makes itself at home in many churches offering yet another distraction in religious form. So the powerful Gospel of the Kingdom gets syphoned off by concerns about so called worship styles pandering to contemporary music and a rock concert ambience, where glorification rather than mortification of the flesh features! This is tragic and unacceptable - mere tinsel town religion, with the devil orchestrating it, the unholiest roller of all, laughing himself silly right in the church aisles!
Social media also provides its own sorts of greetings and greeters along the road. So this begs the question, is it necessary or desirable, in light of the times and the mission and the message of the Kingdom of God, as to how and how much one spends one’s time scrolling and interacting with strangers? In numerous cases it’s clear that some of these are predators - wolves in disguise - looking for someone to snarl at or devour conversationally. In normal life, one would not even approach such individuals. Yet this happens often in the virtual pathways where scrolling has replaced strolling!
So we still need to heed His directive to the 70 concerning greetings along the way. Jesus has His own ideas about some very dynamic “spiritual social distancing,” which reveal His authority bestowed through abiding in His Way of walking in the Holy Spirit.
“Savior, I follow on, Guided by thee, Seeing not yet the hand That leadeth me. Hushed be my heart and still; Fear I no further ill. Only to meet thy will My will shall be.” (From hymn by Charles S. Robinson. Mid 1800s.)
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