If you're joining us via the #SmartFreedom Challenge, I encourage you to read our #SmartFreedom Bible Study no.1: Triple Threat first if you have not. Bible Study no.1: Triple Threat focused on how our phones become a near occasion of sin. This week's Bible Study takes a look at the people in our lives most affected by our phone usage (and who are sometimes the people making our phone addiction worse!).
Want to be in my top 3?
Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Mark 9: 2-10
It's not that Jesus played favorites, but He had an inner circle... a squad within the squad. The Three that were set apart from the Twelve: Peter, James, and John. These three got to see up close and personal a few miracles and revelations that the others had to hear about second hand, way after the fact. This weekend's Gospel about the Transfiguration is a perfect example of this.
In our own lives we have our inner circles. Often this includes our family, best friends, sometimes parents, our bff at work, etc. The people in our Top 3 tend to be the people in closest proximity to us. They get to see a side of us that we don't show to the rest of the world. There is an intimacy built up by proximity--our top 3 learn our quirks, our nuances, our habits, our vices. They love us despite these things... and we tend to return that love by... well, not changing. The comfortability of staying the same around those that love us can be a dangerous place to be.
We often forget to thank our Top 3 for all that they do for us, and worse, we often treat our Top 3 with the most disrespect, apathy, and indifference. That idea of unconditional love is something we tend to take advantage of... And most likely, our Top 3 are the ones that most often see the top of our heads as we scroll mindlessly, google incessantly, and text others while mid-conversation with them. Why do we do this? Because they understand. We're with them all of the time. They get it. They are doing the same thing. We often feel that there is no pressure to engage with the ones we love most because those relationships have been established. They love and accept us as we are... the freedom of being allowed to be the worst versions of ourselves often makes us just that. With strangers or even acquaintances we tend to try harder. Be kinder. Watch our tone, etc. Perhaps we don't even pull out our smartphones while talking to them.
What if smartphones had been around during the Transfiguration? Can you just imagine it? Peter may have missed it because he was changing his instagram handle to @theRock, James would be checking out kayak.com for tickets to Spain as he was planning his next hiking trip, and John, the beloved, would be facebook living the event instead of being present to what was happening.
Jesus brings the Three along for this incredibly revealing and mysterious moment in His life. He offers them to experience life with Him. There would be a time and place for recording that life and sharing it with others--#latergram. Jesus explicitly told them to wait to share the information about what they saw and heard. In the present moment He wanted their presence. He wanted their eyes on Him. Jesus is asking that of us now, but where are our eyes? He wanted their silence--contemplating these things in their hearts. When do we take the time to contemplate? To wait to share? To wait to speak? Or is everyone constantly aware of what we're doing every moment of every day through social media?
And what about our Top 3? Are we watching and listening as they reveal more of themselves to us? Do we allow ourselves to be pulled away from conversation, from sharing life when we are trying to keep up with the rest of the 12, 72, and thousands of others? Do we sit on the mountain with ones we love most, fully attentive and fully present? When we do look up from our phones what do we see? The top of their heads as they scroll? The mindless escape of streaming content from a never-ending source?
How can we say "It is good that we are here"? How can we recognize that life is what is happening around us right now, not just what we learn through a screen? What can we do this week to start to break the cycle?