Shake the dust off your feet when you leave…

Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for this town. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:11-16, NIV)

If there’s one thing I wish God would keep away from our free will it’d be selective reading. In the context of human behavior it seems to be that part of us that ignores all that causes discomfort or even change. It’s the stuff that’s most of the time is essential, yet we chose to not regard it as such. It’s what makes us almost Christians in the most important of times.For the past few weeks the words of Jesus from Matthew 10 can’t get out of my head. They’re like a mosquito bite – you’ve just thought it’s dealt with and then you accidentally touch it… There it goes again – itches for ages. I figured I must investigate deeper the question of Why do Christians seem to never give up trying to get people into heaven?

It’s a question not so much regarding the continuous carrying out of the mission of spreading the Gospel. It’s the issue of us not taking no as an answer. We go, tell people about Jesus and should we get a negative response, then we don’t move on but get stuck, doing everything possible to sneak the other person into heaven. Funny enough, this doesn’t seem to be our task. It’s not what we’re made for and it’s not what we’re responsible for. Our task is to get the message through as clearly and responsibly as possible – to plant the seed. It’s far beyond our job description to actually grow the plant and harvest the fruits.

As Jesus gives authority over deamons to the twelve and notes some other tips for their journeys, He makes one thing sure: if they accept you, stay and be a blessing to them; if they reject you – leave and leave for good. The shaking off of dust is where the power of the message lays. While Israel was a holy land, the land of the Gentiles wasn’t. This is why Jews would shake the dust off their clothes and shoes on leaving a Gentile area. It was a symbol of disregarding any connection with the pagans. So what Jesus is actually saying to the twelve is: if they welcome you, get in and do well; if they don’t – get away and make sure you let them know you’re not coming back. Outrageous, isn’t it? Paul and Barnabas actually did it, just have a look at Acts 13:51.

Today we seem to be carrying the responsibility for everyone’s salvation. When, in fact, all we’re responsible for is telling them about it. With time the Christian message seems to fade and mingle with culture because we’re trying everything and anything to somehow get them to believe it. How much clearer would the Gospel be if it was proclaimed but not imposed? Because imposing is exactly what we seem to be doing most of the time – through material things, relationships, even through changing our own selves. We just sit there and wait till the dude finally gives in and prays the prayer, quits smoking and starts a home group.

If we only were able to let the seed grow in its own time. If only we were able to make it clear that people who don’t welcome God won’t be welcomed in heaven, but in hell. If only we were able to get out of out market mentality – picking out only the fruits that are sweet and flowers that smell nice. If only we were able to shake the dust off when necessary.