Anti Resolution 1- Stay away from toxic people...or should I?
Jesus embraced the "toxic" people of his day, are we then exempt because our mental health is more important?
So here we are in 2021, most of us are simply relieved to have made it through 2020, maybe some of you have already adopted some new resolutions to govern your 2021. We thought it fitting to craft some resolutions of our own, although we decided to do it a little different this year. We decided to flip some popular resolutions on their head, because after all- we are not called to be like the world anyways, amirite?
Resolution #1- Stay Away From Toxic People
“The best way to deal with a toxic person is to not deal with them at all".
So I grabbed these images that were the first to pop up after a quick Google search on "toxic people" and I thought to myself how perfectly they illustrate the point I'm trying to make. Does anyone come to your mind when you read those "Toxic People" lists? Well if you're like me (and even just a little honest), I see myself and pretty much all of humanity, not excluding myself.
It's All Of Us
Toxic people, as defined by many a Pinterest or Instagram worthy meme, all too often describes, well, really anyone. We can all be guilty of being selfish, being liars, being too controlling, battling addiction issues, battling victim mentalities and the like. It is really and truly a universal problem and today's society is all too quick to label someone they simply don't like as "toxic" and then proceed to flush them out of their lives like a piece of waste. Why is this problematic? Well on a secular level, I believe this only feeds into "cancel culture" and a world that lacks grace, forgiveness, and compassion. That is not the kind of world I want to live in, nor raise my children in. Beyond that, on a Kingdom level, this mentality is the very opposite of who God is. Imagine God wrote us off as "toxic" every time we were petty, jealous, over-controlling, addicted. Thankfully, that is NOT the God we serve nor should it be the kind of people we strive to be.
Jesus embraced the "Untouchables"
In the New Testament, we find Jesus often going off His path and out of His way to minister to the demon possessed, the tax collectors, and the literally "toxic" people of His day aka the "untouchables" (those with leprosy). Now if people had reason to believe that a certain group of individuals were "toxic", it would be the people of Jesus' day with the lepers. This horribly disfiguring skin disease would have been horrifying to see, and I can imagine the stigma and fear that accompanied those who bore it. We now know with today's modern science, that although leprosy is contagious, it is not nearly as contagious as thought in those days. For those people however, even the thought of going near an "untouchable" would have been frightening as images of contracting the disease themselves would probably play through their minds. The lepers were, as a result, left in isolation, loneliness, and undoubted pain as they were cast out from society. Then a wondrous thing happened one day, a man came along who didn't fear to touch them.
A Touch from Jesus
"While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell facedown and begged Him, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man.“I am willing,” He said.“Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him." Luke 5:12-14
This scripture demonstrates such a wonderful quality of Jesus- His willingness. He was willing to touch and be exposed, He was willing to be inconvenienced, He was willing to put His plans aside, He was willing to be distracted, He was willing to put His health and His life on the line. In today's world, mental health and well being has become a prominent discussion, and rightfully so. That said, I think that prioritizing mental health and self care, although this may be a good thing in and of itself, has become an idol to our generation. If something gets in the way of our well being, we are so often quick to dismiss it and get rid of it, without even a second thought. And here we get back to the idea of "toxic" people. Are you willing to perhaps sacrifice some of your well-being to minister to the unruly, untouchable toxics of today? Jesus did. Are you strong enough in your own walk with God that you can withstand "negativity"? Jesus was. Do you stand on His promises and His word and His valuation of who you are, or are you so overcome by the words of toxic people that you can't take time to offer them a touch from Jesus? The lost of this world are indeed "toxic", but their toxicity comes from sin, and Jesus has called us to spread the good news that He is the remedy. Will we offer a touch of Jesus or will we be like the rest of the world and simply "stay away from toxic people"?
A disclaimer: This is not an excuse or reason to stay in or tolerate abusive relationships. If you are in a truly abusive relationship, seek help. You can get in touch with us if you need resources on this (email firstname.lastname@example.org)