As Jesus continues to prepare His twelve Apostles for the mission He is sending them on, He gives them some unusual instructions regarding lodging in each city that they will visit. Rather than make arrangements to stay at an inn (and since they’re also told to not carry any money, they wouldn’t be able to pay for one anyway), they are to locate a home in the city at which they can stay, free of charge (including meals!). (See Matthew 10:9-11, Mark 6:8-10, Luke 9:3-4).
Whoa, that sounds like a lot to ask of someone! After all, how would you react if two men who are total strangers come to your door and ask to stay at your house? Perhaps things were a little different back then but it would still seem like the rate of rejection would be pretty high for such a request. Assuming that the Apostles thought so too, their ensuing conversation with Jesus might have gone something like this:
Apostles: OK Jesus, let’s make sure we have this straight. We’re supposed to just show up in a town with no money and expect that someone will take us in so we can preach the gospel?
Jesus: Yes, that is exactly what you should expect. Remember, you won’t actually be empty-handed — you’ll have the spirit and power of God with you. So, there should be somebody in the city willing to open their home to men of God.
Apostles: But what should we do if there isn’t anyone willing to let us stay with them?
Jesus: Well, here’s what you do…
“Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet” (Matthew 10:14, also Mark 6:11, Luke 9:5)
In other words, just move on to the next place. Don’t let the rejection discourage you. Don’t even carry the dust of that house or city with you on your feet. Just start fresh somewhere else.
The phrase, “shake the dust off your feet”, is a recognized idiom in the English language today. It means to put an unfavorable situation behind you and move on, in search of a more favorable arrangement. Although the basic message of the phrase is to walk away from something, we should also choose to hear it as a message of encouragement that there’s something better to be found.
This is especially applicable in our mission today to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others (the same mission that was given to the Apostles of Jesus, by the way). Have you tried to tell others about the gospel and been met with rejection? If this has happened multiple times, perhaps you’ve come to the conclusion that nobody is interested. Don’t give up! Shake the dust off your feet and start fresh with someone else. The next person could be the one!
Years ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to teach young people how to go door to door in neighborhoods and present the gospel. This type of cold calling has a very high rate of rejection so, in order to not have the young people get too discouraged, I emphasized to them that every new door is a fresh opportunity. The next person you speak to has no idea that you’ve had the door slammed in your face at the past 100 houses. So, shake the dust off your feet from previous encounters and approach the next one with the same optimism that you did with the very first house.
Keep the same thing in mind when you share the gospel with others today. Each person you speak to is a fresh opportunity. Even if nobody has ever accepted your invitation to attend church, the next person you speak to doesn’t have to know that. Shake the dust off your feet from previous encounters and start fresh with each new person. The next person you share the gospel with could be the one who accepts it!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.