Shake The Dust off Your Feet
As Church planters, there’s no shortage of powerful Scripture that motivates us: Matthew 28:16-20 (the Great Commission), Romans 8:28 (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”), and Proverbs 3:5-6 (“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight”) among countless others.
But as I look back, there is one Scripture that I wish I would have taken to heart.
Matthew 10:14, as Jesus sends out his disciples (two-by-two), He declares, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
Through the centuries there have been both practical and theological disagreements about what it means to “shake the dust off your feet.” When the disciples were not listened to, and their cause not respected, they were instructed by Jesus to leave. The shaking off of the dust announced coming judgment, while also labeling that village pagan. But such an act also declares that the missionaries have done their job, and are now symbolically washing their hands of further responsibility.
As a Pastor, I would take it personally if a family stopped coming to our church. In many cases, I would still reach out to them, but mostly I lamented their departure while thinking of the words of Christ in Matthew 10:14.
Prior to following God’s call into vocational ministry, I was a television sportscaster, and the broadcast new industry is so “cut-throat” and so stressful and incredibly secular. And yet, I made some great friends and never encountered any opposition to what I was doing. It wasn’t until I became a Pastor that I experienced what it was like for someone to really hate me!
It happens to every church and to every Pastor – some folks will get unhappy and leave. Your flesh may want to chase them or talk them into staying. But hear the Holy Spirit telling you to “wipe the dust of their feet” from your church.
Maybe the Lord is removing a toxic person (or family) from your midst, and your church will be must healthier because of it. Maybe the Lord is relieving someone who has an agenda that isn’t in line with the church’s vision, and your church will far-less divisive with that person gone.
Just as pruning a tree will help it grow back stronger and healthier, sometimes letting someone walk away is the best thing for your congregation!
Image attribution: shakzu / Thinkstock