If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off of your feet when you leave that home or town. ~ Matthew 10:14
READING: Matthew 10:1-16
When Jesus sent out the Twelve on their first preaching tour, He gave them sound instruction that can free us from much angst about rejection or failure when we plant churches. In keeping with the ancient customs of hospitality, He told them to find a worthy person to lodge with while preaching and ministering in each town. Their blessing would rest on that home. But if the host or the town rejected their message, Jesus instructed His disciples to shake off the very dust of that place as they left. He solemnly warned that it would be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for those unreceptive towns.
There is a right way and a wrong way to shake off the dust. Unfortunately, I’ve seen bad examples of how to do this. Perhaps a well-intentioned but harsh Christian will do a bad job of sharing the gospel and alienate people by his ham-handed and insensitive behavior. When the local folks finally get fed up and kick him out, he curses them with a vindictive and dramatic flourish, announcing that he is “shaking off the dust!”
That is NOT the Spirit of Christ (Lk. 10:51 – 56).
We have totally missed the point if we take any pleasure in shaking off the dust. Even if people have treated us shabbily, the love of Christ should constrain us (II Cor. 5:14). Our hearts should grieve their pitiable condition and be quick to release any leftover bitterness regarding them.
We don’t have to labor under a burden of failure or rejection. Jesus invites us to shake it off, and find joy in following Him.
Dear Father, Thank You for granting us grace to experience the fellowship of Your suffering. Amen.
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