by Gary Thomas, from When to Walk Away
|Since Jesus came from Heaven to walk among us, Christians tend to think that walking away from anyone, or letting anyone walk away from the truth, is a failure on our part.
But Jesus walked away or let others walk away… a lot.
I reread the gospels and counted every occurrence where Jesus deliberately parted ways with others. Sometimes He spoke a hard truth, after which the other person walked away. Other times, the people had been touched and begged Jesus to stay, but He had other places to go and left them. Overall, I counted forty-one such instances in all four gospels. Forty-one! Some of these references refer to the same encounter, but that still leaves more than two dozen distinct times when Jesus demonstrated walking away or letting someone else walk away.
These occurrences weren’t always rooted in conflict. Sometimes Jesus walked away from others who wanted more of Him. On still other occasions, He retreated for His own refreshment and renewal or protection. The point is that Jesus didn’t let the needs, pleas, attacks, or unresponsiveness of others distract Him from the mission given to Him by His heavenly Father.
One thing we don’t see when others walk away is Jesus giving chase. As powerful as Jesus was, as brilliant as Jesus was, as pure as Jesus was, and as surrendered to God as Jesus was, not everyone He interacted with “changed,” repented, or agreed with Him. Here’s the principle that comes from that:
No, He turned to His disciples (reliable people) and explained what had just happened and why it was so difficult for that rich man to join them. This is a direct example of Jesus choosing to spend time training reliable people rather than spending more time with a closed person. “Toxic” doesn’t seem to fit this young man’s profile, but the principle is clear: when truth is rejected, spend your time on those who will receive it instead of begging closed-hearted people to reconsider.
On another occasion, after giving a difficult teaching about eating his flesh and drinking His blood, Jesus lost a lot of previously enthusiastic followers:
Notice the confidence that gives authority to His message. Jesus never appears desperate, manipulative, or controlling, as if when people didn’t agree with Him, His feelings would be hurt. He is mission-focused and others-centered to His deepest core.
Jesus also demonstrates the need to sometimes “verbally” walk away when dealing with a toxic person, like Herod. Instead of arguing with Herod and trying to justify himself, Jesus remained silent:
Especially when you know it won’t make any difference, spend those few moments worshiping and relating to your loving heavenly Father rather than contending with a hateful assault.
A particularly vivid example of Jesus letting someone walk away occurred at the Last Supper. Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him. He spoke about it in advance. And yet He allowed Judas to walk out of the room. He didn’t chase after him. He didn’t waste time trying to change Judas’s mind. Instead, He spent every last minute He had left investing in His faithful, reliable disciples and in prayer right up until the moment He was arrested.
Many plastic bracelets have been sold with the words “What Would Jesus Do?” If you’re dealing with toxic people, you may want to get a bracelet that reads, “What Would Jesus Not Do?”
The answer is, “He wouldn’t chase after them.”
Continue to the blog to read more of this excerpt…
Excerpted with permission from When to Walk Away by Gary Thomas, copyright The Center for Evangelical Spirituality.
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So many of us have been taught that good little Christians do not ever cut off toxic people. But, that simply isn’t Jesus’ model. It’s time to shake off the false guilt and follow His lead. Come share your thoughts about Walkaway Jesus on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily