“In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also presented an offering—some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but he did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he looked despondent. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? 7 If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
“By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.”
“When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’”
In January of 2020, my living room was crowded with all the wonderful people from our church community group, when one of our friends said something RIDICULOUS.
“Have you guys been watching the news? I think this coronavirus thing happening in China is going to be a really big deal.”
I was like:
He was trying to say that we were about to find ourselves in the middle of a worldwide plague. But I was clueless and stupid and I just really thought it would all blow over.
I was planning for 2020 to be a challenging mixture of happy and not-so-happy moments woven with mild existential lament and lots of trips to the grocery store for snacks. I was not planning for 2020 to be so… unprecedented.
But of course, we got the dumpster fire of years.
2020 has required everyone to shed a measure of our freedom, the privilege of making our own plans, our job security, our financial stability, our relational points of connection, our children’s opportunities for education and development, as well as the belief that toilet paper and a bag of rice will always be available when we need them.
Personally, I have found 2020 to be particularly obnoxious on social media. The joy of social media has ebbed with each passing week, in its place is a growing desire to take a step back from socials and offer that time as a kind of sacrifice to God.
Of course, the troubling part of this idea has been the fact that my first book came out in February and I’m supposed to be on social media to promote it. But a few weeks ago, I found myself looking for ways to be an author outside of Instagram. It has felt like the right thing to do, and also like the scariest leap of faith I’ve taken in quite a while.
This has all had me thinking a lot about Abel’s offering as well as the expensive ointment Mary poured out on Jesus in Matthew 26. Abel’s voice still speaks to us, promising that doing what is right results in a righteous reward. Mary’s faithfulness to pour out more than seemed wise linked her to the gospel forever. Both Abel and Mary were surrounded by critics who were also their family and friends. Both Abel and Mary were motivated first by their desire to bless God, and both trusted God to defend them and care for them.
And so I’ve found myself offering up social media to God, and choosing to take a break from the pressures it creates in my life. When (If??) I return and you wonder why I have no idea what’s going on anymore, I will ask for grace because, after all, social media and I were on a break.
I have been left with a lot of questions about sacrifices along the way to this moment. For example, what makes a sacrifice acceptable to God? How do we know for certain that what we pour out has anointed the Body of Christ for what God is preparing to do? Why do we tend to expect the fruit of our sacrifice to be grand in scale here in this life when Jesus told us that the greatest sacrifices are rewarded once we leave this life and enter his presence forever? And why do we always seem to be so much like Cain, longing for God to approve of us no matter what we do, as we compare our life with the lives of others’ with the hope we will find undeniable proof that what we have chosen to do is good enough?
I hope to find some answers to those questions. Consider this an invitation on this journey with me. I’ll be reading and sharing some books with you every now and then that have to do with social media and sacrifice. Since I’m not on Instagram, I’ll be sending Funny Letterboard Friday posts out through email. But really, my life is pretty quiet without the noise of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, which I hope means there is more space to hear God about what to write next.
And if that friend of mine who saw the 2020 plague on the horizon tells me sees what’s coming next, I promise I’ll give you the scoop as soon as possible.
I’m hoping for rainbows that lead to taco bars in 2021. Or perhaps a basket full of cute puppies on my front porch. But I’ll even take some good photos of other people’s puppies or a precious kitten video. Because if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the power of a kitten video.
If I were a psalmist, I’d end with a big Selah right here.
You know what? That just feels right.
Selah, y’all. Selah.