Thursday, May 16, 2013

No Really, Something Worth Fearing

Ananias sipped his cappuccino and sat down with his laptop to check Facebook. He scrolled down the wall through posts from his friends. Colleagues from the tanning shop, classmates from the synagogue, distant family. He actually only had a few people’s posts tagged to show up on his wall, mostly others who were “of the way.” The times were too charged and dialogue a little too heated for his taste otherwise.

He had even considered closing his account down. Why have it? He hardly ever posted. Even some of the way had become a little overbearing for his taste. The chance of being forced to stand up for one’s beliefs before the Emperor Cult was a real risk that seemed to be made light of with all the postings demanding that one “like” or “share” to demonstrate one’s sincerity. Jesus had warned against denying Him before men; but Facebook didn’t seem to be what He had been talking about.

With the persecution against the way from Saul, many of those who had been actively “demonstrating” their commitment to Christ with silly “likes” and social media posturing were closing down their accounts or getting off the web altogether. Forget “likes” and “Shares.” Ananias knew that his life of open faith in the city was just as damning if not more so than a designation on his internet presence.

“Oh no. What is this?”

A news item was peppering a lot of postings this morning. It seemed that Saul had obtained papers from the synagogue allowing him to arrest more believers. And it seemed he was headed to Damascus. Ananias looked around the coffee shop nervously.

One of Ananias’s more dramatic Facebook contacts—one of those that had lately clogged the wall up with “Like if you love Jesus” or “Share if you won’t deny Him” postings—had a new ax to grind. This time it involved Enemy Number One of the Way, Saul himself.

“I don’t care what his motivations are! I don’t want to know how someone could be moved to do this to other people, simply for the way they interpret Scripture and choose to believe. I don’t need to understand him! He should be captured and imprisoned himself!”

Ananias’s initial response was to concur. He had heard the stories of the terrible things Saul had done. And now he was headed this way! Fear and loathing were easy and natural responses.

Then it was as if a voice spoke in his ear. “I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Did Jesus really mean that? Ananias did not want to understand Saul. He wanted to hate him.

[Ping]

An IM popped up at the bottom of the screen. Ananias looked down to see who it was.

“What?” Ananias looked around. The IM said that it was from the Lord. He didn’t recall friending Him, not on Facebook that is.

[Ananias]

Ananias typed.

[Here I am, Lord]

[Get up and go to the street called straight and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.]

What? Go help Saul? Ananias vacillated. Could this be some joke, or worse, a trick? It all seemed too crazy to be true. The house of a Judas? Really?

[Lord, I have heard from many of this man. He has done a lot of harm to your saints in Jerusalem. And now he is here to capture all the people who call on your name.]

[Ananias, go. For he is a chosen instrument of mine. He will bear my name before nations, kings and the sons of Israel, and I will show him how much he will have to suffer for my name’s sake.]

Ananias thought for a moment. He thought about all those posts demanding “likes” and “shares.” How easy that sort of belief had been; laughable as it was. He drank his cappuccino. He looked back at the screen.

[OK, Lord.]

Ananias gathered his stuff together preparing to leave. He typed “Straight Street” into Google Maps. Then, before he closed his laptop, he deleted his Facebook account.

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