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God’s People, part 192: Shaking Dust

Read Mark 6:7-13

“I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day.”  (Matthew 10:15, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Shaking-Dust-FeetPart 192: Shaking Dust. The pain that Jesus must have felt when he was rejected by his hometown of Nazareth, is easy enough to imagine. Think about your hometown. More than likely, you have fond memories of growing up there. I am sure you can remember the not so good things about it too; however, most of us look back to our childhood and to our hometowns with a positive nostalgia. It is the place, for better or worse, where we grew up and discovered who we are.

I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for all of the experiences I had growing up where I did. The good, the bad and the ugly experiences all helped me to become who I’ve become. The same undoubtedly is true for Jesus of Nazareth. So, when his own hometown kicked him out of the synagogue and tried to throw him off a cliff, I can only imagine the pain and sorrow that caused.

It was following that event that Jesus sends his twelve disciples, who in this moment become apostles (meaning “sent”), to go town to town preaching the good news, healing the sick and casting out demons. This was a big undertaking for them. All of the teachings of Christ, all of the things he taught them and they hopefully had learned, were going to be put to the test.

As he was preparing them for their mission, Jesus instructed them to go into towns and rely on the hospitality of a single household in each town. If the place household accepted them and listened to the Gospel message, then they were to bless that house and the people in it; however, if the household rejected them or their message, they were to “shake the dust off their feet” and leave. Jesus then stated that doing such was, “ to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate” (Mark 6:11, NLT).

What’s more, Jesus didn’t just say that for the households either. He was also referring to the towns. In Luke 10:14, he put it this way, “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.” He then added in verse 15, “I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day.”

Ouch. Why did Jesus compare Sodom and Gomorrah to those towns? Because the predominant sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was their lack of hospitality. They refused to listen to the message of the angels God sent, thus refusing to listen to God, and they wanted to rape Lot’s angelic guests rather than treat them with dignity, respect and hospitality.

Just as Jesus did with his own hometown of Nazareth, he was telling his disciples to shake the dust off their feet and to move on from places that reject them. It wasn’t worth arguing or trying to prove one’s point, or lingering around in hopes that they would change. Rather, shake the dust off and move on to those who are receptive and hospitable.

This instruction from Christ should challenge us in two ways. First, we should unashamedly be witnessing our faith in Jesus Christ to others. We should be sharing the Gospel message and we should not worry about being rejected. If that happens, let it be. Move on from those people and focus on the ones who hear the Gospel with eager ears and open hearts. Shaking the dust off our feet should not be done judgmentally, for who know what seed might grow at some point; however, time is short and the message is urgent. Let God deal with the people who will not hear it.

Second, we should be challenged to be a hospitable people. We should never live our lives in a way that reflect Sodom and Gomorrah. Remember, those cities were not destroyed because of homosexuality (as it is often misconstrued); rather, those cities were destroyed because they were so corrupted by evil that they could care less treating strangers/foreigners with respect, dignity and hospitality. They saw people as objects to use for their own pleasure and satisfaction.

Let us not be such a people. Let us instead be a people who are sent into the world representing Christ’s love and hospitality. Let us be a people who love others, who share the Gospel, and who show radical hospitality to all, even those who are rejecting us.

In fact, that is exactly the effect of shaking dust off of our feet in those situations where we are being rejected. In that moment, we are simply showing hospitality and acknowledging that the people rejecting us don’t want us there. Thus, we remove ourselves and go to a place where people have open ears and open hearts. Begin to model this in your life and embody the radical hospitality of our Lord and Savior.

Radical hospitality does not discriminate. It knows no sexual identity, gender, race, ethnicity, ability, or any other label used to divide us. It is one and the same to all.

Lord, transform me into a radically hospitable person by your sanctifying grace. Amen.