If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them. (Mark 6.11)
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, may have been told we’d lost Christ, went looking for Christ, and found Christ 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.
Jesus sends 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 knows there's no guarantee they’ll be well received and respected. “If you meet hostility or closed minds,” He says, “Shake the dust off your feet. Move on.” Shake off the dust? Is that a harsh gesture, the Bible’s equivalent of a flip-off? Almost, but not quite. Customarily, Jews passing through pagan country take extra care not to bring anything back from it, including its dust. So Jesus basically tells the disciples those unwilling to welcome or listen to them are no better than heathens. Harsh, but it made sense then. It still does.
Some believe God loves us all, but only embraces a few (namely, them). Others put no stock whatsoever in God or God's love. How threatened they all must be when we proclaim God's 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 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.
Originally posted September 12, 2008.
Different process. Same principle.