Shake Off the Dust
And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.
~ Matthew 10:11-14
Christ charged us, and anointed us, with what is called the Great Commission. Our job is to go forth into the world and proclaim the Good News of salvation through Christ, so that all the world may hear it and have a chance to know it. But not all who hear it will receive it. Many will reject it, some vehemently and with mockery and sarcasm, and even violence. This is not our problem.
If we read the first verse of the quote carefully, we might suddenly realize an enormous implication to the worlds “find out who is worthy in it.” Christ does not tell us, “harangue those who scoff and argue until they agree with you.” He does not tell us, “Make them accept your words by threats and bribes.” He tells us, rather, that it is they who must show whether they are worthy, not we who must prove that Christ is worthy. We are not trying to sell them something. We are trying to give them life.
If they reject our message, it is not a reflection on us. We must not become frustrated (although we might be disappointed or sad). It is not part of our Great Commission to fit a round peg in a square hole.
Secondly, consider the implication of “let your peace return to you.” Christ seems to intend this to mean, “Do not attempt to bless a house that rejects your message.” But we might extend it to our own state of mind: “Be at peace when you bring the Word of Christ to someone and they reject it.”
We cannot let a lost soul disturb our peace; we should not feel frustrated. It is human nature to argue and try to win an argument, when you know you are right, and to feel frustrated when someone will not listen to you. We are not selling ourselves; we are not trying to prove that we are correct or smart or wise. We seek their victory, not our own. Those who will not hear us have not rejected us; it is prideful to cast the rejection in such terms. They have rejected Christ, not us.
And finally, “shake off the dust from your feet” when you leave. In other words: “fuhgeddaboutit.” It is not our job to save the world; it is rather our job to inform those in the world so that they might accept salvation, if they want it. The world will destroy itself, and the unredeemed will destroy themselves with it. Judgment is not ours to make and redemption is not ours to give. God’s Holy Spirit will flow from us to anyone who willingly accepts Christ, and nobody else.
Lord, let me be bold in witnessing to salvation through Christ, and at peace when someone rejects it. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer