Friday, September 12, 2008

Shake It Off!

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.

                        Matthew 10.14

Out and About

The most thrilling news we’ll ever receive is God loves and accepts us without hesitation. We may hesitate to accept this, though, because years of religious and cultural misinformation have primed us to think otherwise. Our initial reaction may be, “Can this possibly be true?” Many of us are so thoroughly steeped in believing the opposite, digesting this takes time—months, even years in some cases. When we work through it, unabashed elation overtakes us. We’ve got a great story and we’re dying to tell it.

We found Christ, believed we’d lost Him, went looking for Him, and found He never left. We’re like the woman Jesus describes in Luke 15. She mislaid a silver coin and turned her house upside-down until she located it. It was there all along. Then, coin firmly in hand, she called her friends and said, “Rejoice with me!” Once we’re out and about, however, we’re likely to meet people who won’t rejoice over our discovery because they refuse to believe it or simply don’t care. Before letting their disdain get to us, we should hear what Jesus says to do if this happens.

Move On

Jesus sent out the disciples with very specific instructions—whom to reach, what to say and do, what to pack, even how to behave as houseguests. But He also knew there was no guarantee they’d be well received and respected. “If you meet hostility or closed minds,” He said, “Shake the dust off your feet. Move on.” Shake off the dust? Was that a harsh gesture, the Bible’s equivalent of a flip-off? Almost, but not quite. Customarily, Jews passing through a pagan country took extra care not to bring anything back from it, including its dust. So Jesus basically told the disciples that those unwilling to welcome or listen to them were no better than heathens. Harsh, but it made sense. It still does.

Keep Clean

Some believe God loves us all, but He only embraces a few (namely, them). Others put no stock whatsoever in God or His love. How threatened they all must be when we proclaim His universal, unconditional acceptance! Out of fear and/or cynicism, they switch topics from God’s goodness to our error. That’s when it’s time to go. As we do, we leave their opinions right where we found them.

Negativity clings. That’s the sad fact hidden in Christ’s instruction. And good manners can sometimes corrupt God’s message. We gain nothing by indulging or debating those who want to soil our faith with condemnation and criticism. When we face opposition, we immediately shake it off. It may feel rude, but know it’s right.

We leave condemnation, criticism, and other forms of negativity right where we found them. Unlike these two, we shake the dust off our feet. (And, by the way, what could they possibly be doing, standing this way?)

(Tomorrow: Crowded Out)

Postscript: Bold Compromise and Delving Deeper

Unholy Boldness

Prior to launching Straight-Friendly, I spoke with several bloggers and regular blog readers about its objectives and the format I had in mind. Nearly all of them stressed brevity—keeping each day’s post down to a paragraph or two. Yet condensing the content of S-F’s posts inevitably would defeat their purpose. The most suitable compromise seemed to be bolding key words and phrases for scanners, while expanding the content in keeping with its demands for more traditional readers. 

Lately, however, I’ve got numerous emails saying the boldface technique is distracting and actually works against the copy. I completely agree and, as you’ve probably noticed, have eliminated it. Unless I hear otherwise, the posts will be bold-free hereon out. 

Here I Am Lord: A Blog You Should Visit

Almost daily, I finish a post wishing space would allow me to delve more deeply into the content. But S-F’s purpose is inspiration, not instruction. Thankfully, there are other blogs and sites whose primary focus is exegesis--i.e., exploring the context and meaning of the text in detail. Sherry, whom Straight-Friendly proudly claims as a regular reader, is the author of one, called “Here I Am Lord”.

Currently, she’s looking at the Gospel of Mark, verse by verse, as well as featuring posts from other blogs (including S-F) that she finds interesting. Her analysis is consistently exciting and insightful—particularly for those of us who find in-depth exploration of scripture a bottomless well of fascination. If you’re searching for an online Bible study resource, “Here I Am Lord” is sure to meet your needs. Give it a look.

Here I Am Lord

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