Moving On: It’s Okay to Shake the Dust Off & Brush Your Shoulder Off

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ which was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the ninth and tenth chapter of this New Testament book. THE SENDING OF THE TWELVE! THE SENDING OF THE SEVENTY! THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN! MARY AND MARTHA! THE LABOR OF MARTHA, THE REST OF MARY! NOW HEROD THE TETRACH HEARD OF ALL THAT WAS DONE BY HIM: AND HE WAS PERPLEXED, BECAUES THAT IT WAS SAID OF SOME, THAT JOHN WAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD! AND HEROD SAID, JOHN HAVE I BEHEADED: BUT WHO IS THIS, OF WHOM I HEAR SUCH THINGS! AND HE DESIRED TO SEE HIM! [AND THE APOSTLES, WHEN THEY WERE RETURNED, TOLD HIM ALL THAT THEY HAD DONE]. THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND! [GIVE YE THEM TO EAT]. MAKE THEM SIT DOWN BY FIFTIES IN A COMPANY! ONE HUNDRED DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES! ONE HUNDRED DIFFERENT COMPANIES! THEN HE TOOK THE FIVE LOAVES AND THE TWO FISHES, AND LOOKING UP TO HEAVEN, HE BLESSED THEM, AND BRAKE, AND GAVE TO THE DISCIPLES TO SET BEFORE THE MULTITUDE! AND THEY DID EAT, AND WERE ALL FILLED! [AND THERE WAS TAKEN UP OF FRAGMENTS THAT REMAINED TO THEM TWELVE BASKETS]. WHOM SAY THE PEOPLE THAT I AM? BUT WHOM SAY YE THAT I AM? [THE SON OF MAN MUST SUFFER MANY THINGS, AND BE REJECTED OF THE ELDERS AND CHIEF PRIESTS AND SCRIBES, AND BE SLAIN, AND BE RAISED THE THIRD DAY! “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste death, till they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:23-27).

            WITH CHRIST ON THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION! WHEN THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS MEET GRACE AND TRUTH! WHEN THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS MEETS THE MESSIAH! THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS BEHOLD AND MEET THE ONE THEY SPOKE ABOUT! [While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear Him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen]. THE TRAGEDY OF A FAITHLESS AND PERVERSE GENERATION! [AND I BESOUGHT THY DISCIPLES TO CAST HIM OUT; AND THEY COULD NOT]. ”Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men]. THEN THERE AROSE A REASONING AMONG THEM, WHICH OF THEM SHOULD BE THE GREATEST! […for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great]. THE SONS OF THUNDER! THE SONS OF FIRE! AND JOHN ANSWERED AND SAID, MASTER, WE SAW ONE CASTING OUT DEVILS IN THY NAME; AND WE FORBAD HIM, BECAUSE HE FOLLOWETH NOT WITH US! [AND JESUS SAID UNTO HIM, FORBID HIM NOT: FOR HE THAT IS NOT AGAINST US IS FOR US]. [And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him. And they did not receive Him, because Hiw face was as though he would go to Jerusalem]. WHEN HIS DISCIPLES JAMES AND JOHN SAW THIS, THEY SAID, LORD, WILT THOU THAT WE COMMAND FIRE TO COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, AND CONSUME THEM, EVEN AS ELIAS DID? [Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them]. SHAKE THE DUST OFF YOUR FEET! IF YOU’RE NOT RECEIVED IN ONE, MOVE ON TO THE OTHER! THERE IS NO SHAME IN MOVING ON FROM ONE CITY TO ANOTHER! THERE IS NO HARM IN MOVING FROM ONE CITY TO ANOTHER! THERE IS NO HARM IN MOVING FROM ONE HOME TO ANOTHER!

            AND THEY WENT TO ANOTHER VILLAGE! IT’S OKAY TO MOVE ON! IT’S OKAY TO MOVE FORWARD! IT’S OKAY NOT TO REMAIN STUCK IN ONE PLACE! REJECTED WILL HAPPEN! REJECTION WILL TAKE PLACE! YOU WILL NOT BE RECEIVED EVERYWHERE YOU GO! IT’S OKAY NOT TO GET STUCK IN ONE PLACE! IT’S OKAY NOT TO GET STUCK IN REJECTION! IT’S OKAY TO SHAKE THE DUST OFF! IT’S OKAY TO BRUSH YOUR SHOULDER OFF! IT’S OKAY TO LEAVE THE DUST BEHIND YOU! YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BE HEARD EVERYTIME YOU SPEAK! YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BE WELCOMED EVERYTIME YOU ARRIVE! ARRIVING, YET NOT WELCOMED! ARRIVING, YET NOT EMBRACED! ARRIVING, YET BEING HEARD! REJECTION IS A PART OF LIFE! REJECTION IS A PART OF MINISTRY! REJECTION IS A PART OF DISCIPLESHIP! REJECTION IS A PART OF WALKING WITH AND FOLLOWING JESUS! DO NOT GET OFFENDED WHEN YOU’RE NOT RECEIVED! DO NOT GET OFFENDED WHEN YOU’RE NOT WELCOMED! DO NOT GET OFFENDED WHEN YOU’RE NOT HEARD! EVEN THOUGH I SEND YOU INTO THE WORLD—THE WORLD WILL NOT RECEIVE YOU! EVEN THOUGH I SEND YOU INTO NATIONS—CITIES WILL NOT RECEIVE YOU! EVEN THOUGH I SEND YOU INTO CITIES—NEIGHBORHOODS WILL NOT RECEIVE YOU! EVEN THOUGH I SEND YOU INTO NEIGHBORHOODS—HOUSES AND HOMES WILL NOT RECEIVE YOU!

And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And 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. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city” (Matthew 10:12-15).

            “And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, AND EXPELLED THEM OUT OF THE COASTS. BUT THEY SHOOK OFF THE DUST OF THEIR FEET AGAINST THEM, AND CAME UNTO ICONIUM. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:42-52).

            “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tent makers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, HE SHOOK HIS RAIMENT, AND SAID UNTO THEM, YOUR BLOOD BE UPON YOUR OWN HEADS; I AM CLEAN: FORM HENCEFORTH I WILL GO UNTO THE GENTILES. AND HE DEPARTED THENCE, AND ENTERED INTO A CERTAIN MAN’S HOUSE, NAMED JUSTUS, ONE THAT WORSHIPPED GOD, WHOSE HOUES JOINED HARD TO THE SYNAGOGUE” (Acts 18:1-7).

            “And He said unto them, IN what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, SHAKE OFF THE DUST UNDER YOUR FEET FOR A TESTIMONY AGAINST THEM. VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, IT SHALL BE MORE TOLERABLE FOR SODOM AND GOMORRAH IN THE DAY OF JUDGMENT, THAN FOR THAT CITY” (Mark 6:10-11).

            “And He said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. AND WHATSEOVER HOUES YE ENTER INTO, THERE ABIDE, AND THENCE DEPART. AND WHOSOEVER WILL NOT RECEIVE YOU, WHEN YE GO OUT OF THAT CITY, SHAKE OFF THE VERY DUST FROM YOUR FEET FOR A TESTIMONY AGAINST THEM” (Luke 9:3-5).

            AND THEY WENT TO ANOTHER VILLAGE! IT’S OKAY TO MOVE ON! IT’S OKAY TO MOVE FORWARD! IT’S OKAY NOT TO REMAIN STUCK IN ONE PLACE! REJECTED WILL HAPPEN! REJECTION WILL TAKE PLACE! YOU WILL NOT BE RECEIVED EVERYWHERE YOU GO! IT’S OKAY NOT TO GET STUCK IN ONE PLACE! IT’S OKAY NOT TO GET STUCK IN REJECTION! IT’S OKAY TO SHAKE THE DUST OFF! IT’S OKAY TO BRUSH YOUR SHOULDER OFF! IT’S OKAY TO LEAVE THE DUST BEHIND YOU! YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BE HEARD EVERYTIME YOU SPEAK! YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BE WELCOME EVERYTIME YOU ARRIVE! ARRIVING, YET NOT WELCOMED! ARRIVING, YET NOT EMBRACED! ARRIVING, YET BEING HEARD! REJECTION IS A PART OF LIFE! REJECTION IS A PART OF MINISTRY! REJECTION IS A PART OF DISCIPLESHIP! REJECTION IS A PART OF WALKING WITH AND FOLLOWING JESUS! DO NOT GET OFFENDED WHEN YOU’RE NOT RECEIVED! DO NOT GET OFFENDED WHEN YOU’RE NOT WELCOMED! DO NOT GET OFFENDED WHEN YOU’RE NOT HEARD! EVEN THOUGH I SEND YOU INTO THE WORLD—THE WORLD WILL NOT RECEIVE YOU! EVEN THOUGH I SEND YOU INTO NATIONS—CITIES WILL NOT RECEIVE YOU! EVEN THOUGH I SEND YOU INTO CITIES—NEIGHBORHOODS WILL NOT RECEIVE YOU! EVEN THOUGH I SEND YOU INTO NEIGHBORHOODS—HOUSES AND HOMES WILL NOT RECEIVE YOU!

            When you come to this particular passage of Scripture you will find it beginning much like the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew does. Within the opening verses of this passage you will find the same instruction and command given from Jesus unto His twelve disciples as He calls them unto Himself and sends them forth as labourers into the harvest. It is quite interesting to think about and consider that the narrative surrounding the sending out of the twelve disciples is not only written and recorded in the tenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew, but it is also found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark, as well as here in the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the physician Luke. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs pay close attention to that which Jesus spoke unto and commanded His disciples on this particular occasion, for not only does it speak a lot about discipleship, but I am also convinced that it speaks a lot about life in general. There is not a doubt in my mind that when you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find yourself being brought face to face with part of the purpose of discipleship. I mention and speak of what is found here as being part of the purpose of discipleship, for we must needs recognize and understand that ministry, and our fulfilling the Great Commission is only half of what Jesus actually called, invited, and commanded us to do. It would be very easy to allow ourselves to get caught up in the fact that discipleship is all about walking with and following Jesus as fulfill the Great Commission, and as we engage in the ministry that is set before us, however, I would dare suggest that this reality is not only incredible naïve and false, but it is also incredibly dangerous. I would like to propose unto you that discipleship is about more than simply our being sent out as labourers into the harvest, and quite honestly touches our willingness and our ability to be a people of self-denial and a people of self-sacrifice. Before I delve into that which is found within this passage recorded within the three Synoptic Gospels I feel it is absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to what is perhaps one of—if not the greatest demonstrations and manifestations of discipleship within this life. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the final verses of the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, as well as words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the same gospel:

            “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, FLEE YE INTO ANOTHER: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciples that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much mor shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is onthing covered, that shall not be revealed: and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. WHOSOEVER THEREFORE SHALL CONFESS ME BEFORE MEN, HIM WILL I CONFESS ALSO BEFORE MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN. BUT WHOSOEVER SHALL DENY ME BEFORE MEN, HIM WILL I ALSO DENY BEFORE MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. HE THAT LOVETH FATHER OR MOTHER MORE THAN ME IS NOT WORTHY OF ME: AND HE THAT LOVETH SON OR DAUGHTER MORE THAN ME IS NOT WORTHY OF ME. AND HE THAT TAKETH NOT HIS CROSS, AND FOLLOWETH AFTER ME, IS NOT WORTHY OF ME. HE THAT FINDETH HIS LIFE SHALL LOSE IT: AND HE THAT LOSETH HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE SHALL FIND IT” (Matthew 10:21-39).

            “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, IF ANY MAN WILL COME AFTER ME, LET HIM DENY HIMSELF, AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS, AND FOLLOW ME. FOR WHOSOEVER WILL SAVE HIS LIFE SHALL LOSE IT: AND WHOSOEVER WILL LOSE HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE SHALL FIND IT. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? OR what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels: and then he shall reward every man according to His works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).

            It is quite clear from the words found within these two passages of Scripture that at the very heart, and at the very core and foundation of discipleship is this willingness to be a people of self-denial and self-sacrifice—a people who are willing to live beyond themselves, and a people who are willing to take up their cross and follow their Lord. What has fascinated me—particularly and especially in recent weeks—is that before Jesus ever indicated the type of death He would experience, and before Jesus would ever look upon and behold the cross He would not only carry, but also die on—He would speak of the cross as the means and symbol of discipleship. In all reality, I would dare say that we have equated the cross with salvation, with redemption, with atonement, and with the work Jesus did on that Friday two thousand years ago, and it has become a symbol of the death of Jesus the Christ, while having no subsequent meaning for our own hearts and lives. We have absolutely zero qualms and zero issues with the cross as a symbol of our salvation, as a symbol of our freedom from sin, and as a symbol of our redemption and the atonement that was made for us, however, when it comes to the cross as a symbol of discipleship we shirk and balk at that reality. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the awesome truth and reality surrounding and concerning the cross, as the cross is more than simply a means of salvation, redemption and atonement, but it is a means of discipleship as well. If there is one thing I would invite you to hear and to consider within this reading it’s that Jesus didn’t die upon the cross so we wouldn’t have to—He died upon the cross as an example of what was asked and required of us. What’s more, is that Jesus didn’t carry His cross along the Via Dolorosa unto the place of the skull so that we wouldn’t have to—He carried His cross along the Via Dolorosa to the place of the skull as an example for us so we would know what it looks like. Ultimately and inevitably the carrying of our cross must always bring us to the place of the skull—it must always bring us to the place within our minds where we make the conscious and deliberate decision that we are willing to be transformed in the renewing of our minds, and are willing to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ with everything that we have within us.

            We must needs recognize and understand this awesome and incredible reality that is found in these chapters, for at the very heart and core of discipleship has always been and will always be the cross of Jesus the Christ. At the very heart and foundation of discipleship is the cross and its invitation unto us to deny ourselves that we might not only live beyond ourselves, but also walk with and follow Jesus. It should be worth noting that the cross not only directly touches and affects the denying of ourselves, but it also touches our willingness to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. The cross is at the very heart of our denial, as well as at the very heart of our following Jesus. With that being said, it is necessary that we pay close attention to the words found in this narrative of Jesus calling the twelve disciples unto Himself and sending them out, for there is something He speaks and delivers unto the disciples which has direct implications and ramifications within our hearts and our lives. If and as you read the words found and contained within these chapters you will be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that when Jesus sent out His twelve disciples—not only did He send them out having prepared them to be hated of all nations for His name’s sake, but we also find His preparing them for rejection. We would like to think that when Jesus invites us to partner together with Him in ministry that He sends us out into a vast amount of success, and that He sends us out to experience open arms and open hearts wherever we go. When we think of ministry we like to think of it in terms of our being received, our being welcomed, our being embraced, and our being understood every place we go. The truth of the matter, however, is that when Jesus sent His twelve disciples out—not only did He send them out preparing them to be hated of all men, but He also prepared them to be put out of synagogues, and to not be received and welcomed in certain homes and villages they entered.

            IF you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the gospel narrative written by John Mark, and the words which are found in the ninth chapter of the gospel narrative written by Luke you will find that while Jesus did indeed send His disciples out with the command to go preaching the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and while He did send them out to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to raise the dead, and to cast out devils, he also spoke to them of cities and homes they would enter, and the experience(s) they would have within them. You cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that when Jesus sent the disciples out—not only did He prepare them to be hated of all nations and all men for His name’s sake, and not only did He prepare them to be persecuted, but He also prepared them to be rejected in certain cities, in certain towns, in certain villages, and even in certain homes they would enter. It’s worth noting that Jesus did indeed send His disciples out into the cities, into the towns, into the villages, and into the homes within the land of Israel, however, not every city would welcome the disciples, nor would every town welcome their ministry and message. What’s more, is that while it would indeed be true they would enter into villages and homes they would not be received in every village and home they entered. There might be some of you reading these words who would think that when Jesus sent His disciples out He sent them out preparing for failure, and I fully realize that might be the underlying line of thinking when reading these words. The more I read, the more I think about, and the more I consider these words the more I come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that while Jesus didn’t necessarily send us out expecting failure in ministry, He did send us out with the underlying understanding and knowledge that what we might deem as failure in ministry is actually a fulfillment of the rejection He spoke of when sending His twelve disciples out. We would be incredibly naïve to think about and consider the fact that when we engage ourselves in ministry—regardless of whether it’s in church buildings, or in the streets, or in houses and homes, or whether it’s in cities and towns—we cannot and will not find ourselves facing and experiencing rejection.

            HE WAS IN THE WORLD, AND THE WORLD WAS MADE BY HIM, AND THE WORLD KNEW HIM NOT! HE CAME UNTO HIS OWN, AND HIS OWN RECEIVED HIM NOT! HE IS DESPISED AND REJECTED OF MEN! AND WE HID AS IT WERE OUR FACES FROM HIM! HE WAS DESPISED, AND WE ESTEEMED HIM NOT! These words which are taken directly from the first chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John, as well as the words which are found in the fifty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah bring us face to face with the awesome reality that even though Jesus was in the world, and even though the world was made by Him, the world knew Him not. Despite the fact that Jesus came unto His own, His own received Him not. The prophet Isaiah would prophesy and foresee the Messiah coming and being despised and rejected of men, and men hiding as it were their faces from Him. The prophet Isaiah prophesied and foretold concerning the Messiah that He would be despised and esteemed not—a reality we must needs recognize and understand when we consider the Messiah sent His disciples out into the world, and sent His disciples into the cities, towns, villages and homes in Israel, and yet He did not send them out with the expectation they would be received and welcomed everywhere they went. What makes this truly astonishing is when you think about the fact that Jesus would send His disciples out with the command and instruction to “Go” and to “Do,” and yet even in the process of going and doing they would experience rejection in certain places they went. We must needs recognize this, for when Jesus sent His disciples out, He didn’t send them out expecting success everywhere they went. When Jesus sent His disciples out He didn’t send them out knowing—much less believing—everyone would receive them and hear and listen to their message. Jesus never sent the disciples out with the false impression and false idea that they would find success every place they went. In all reality, you cannot have, nor can you expect success everywhere you go and at the same time be prepared for persecution, and at the same time be prepared to be hated of all men for the sake of the name of Jesus.

            The underlying question I find myself asking right now as I am writing these words is how many men and women have this false narrative—this false idea and picture of ministry—within their hearts and minds as they think and believe that ministry should be shrouded and saturated with success. How many men and women among us within the church and body of Christ enter into and engage themselves in ministry under the false assumption and the false narrative that ministry is always going to be this dynamo of success? There are countless men and women among us within the church and body of Christ who agreed to walk with and follow Jesus—even setting out to fulfill the Great Commission—thinking and believing that in doing so they would be met with tremendous amounts of success. Such men and women have believed the false reality and the false narrative that the word they preach and speak can and will be received anywhere and everywhere they go. In all reality, I would dare say that there are many among us within this generation who have a false understanding and a false idea concerning walking with and following Jesus, as well as a false sense of engaging themselves in ministry within the earth. There are men and women who have made the decision to walk with and follow Jesus thinking and believing that by doing so they will be living their best life now, and yet they are stunned, shocked and surprised to find out that walking with and following Jesus involves the cross—and not only involves the cross, but involves the cross within their own lives. With that being said—I am absolutely and completely convinced that just as men and women among us think and believe they can follow Jesus absent the cross and its work within their hearts and lives, so also do these men and women think and believe the false idea that following in His footsteps and setting out to fulfill the Great Commission will automatically mean success and reception wherever they go. Men and women are completely and utterly stunned when they realize the tremendous need for the cross within their hearts and lives, as well as the fact that Jesus never promised, nor did He ever guarantee success in ministry. Along these same lines I would dare say that not only did Jesus prepare us for the reality that we cannot and will not experience success every time and everywhere in ministry, but He also prepared us for this same reality within life itself. We would be incredibly naïve to think about and consider the fact that we have been promised and guaranteed success in all avenues of life—regardless of whether it’s in ministry, or in the work place, or in anything else we set our hearts and minds to do.

            As I sit here today I can’t help but think about and consider the awesome and incredible reality that Jesus prepared us for those moments when we either experience failure, or we feel as though we have failed. One thing which is absolutely important to note is that there is a vast difference between actually experiencing failure, and thinking and believing within our hearts and minds that we have failed and/or that we have somehow failed. There is a fine line between our thinking and believing that we have failed, and allowing ourselves to get caught up in that narrative within our minds—even if such a narrative is false and misleading—and our actually failing. The question I can’t help but think about and ask myself is how much of what we experience within our lives is actually a false narrative we have told ourselves within our hearts and minds versus actually being a reality? How many times has failure been nothing more than a narrative and story we have told ourselves—that which we have tried convincing ourselves of—and have allowed ourselves to get caught up in that reality? Perhaps one of the greatest dangers surrounding the false narrative of failure is that it can oftentimes paralyze and cripple us within our minds, within our hearts, and even within the very depths of our soul. One of the greatest realities within our hearts and minds is that we allow ourselves to get so caught up and consumed with failure—or our perception of failure—that it paralyzes and cripples us, thus keeping us stagnant in a single place completely unable to move on and move forward. This is perhaps what is so absolutely critical and vital when reading the words which are found in these passages and these narratives, for not only are they an emphatic declaration that rejection is par for the course, and not only is the narrative of failure something we can and will struggle with in our hearts and minds, but Jesus also seemed to invite us to embrace the rejection, and to even embrace that which we perceive as failure. EMBRACING THE REJECTION! EMBRACING THE FAILURE! EMBRACING THE DISAPPOINTMENT! EMBRACING UNMET EXPECTATIONS! EMBRACING UNFULFILLED ANTICIPATION! Would it shock and surprise you if I told you that it was okay to embrace the rejection you experience within your life—regardless of whether it was rejection in ministry, rejection in the workplace, rejection in an endeavor you attempted, or anything else you have possible experienced rejection in.

            The more I think about and consider the words which are found in these passages of Scripture the more I can’t help but be drawn and captivated with and by the awesome and incredible reality that rejection and being rejected is in fact a normal—and I would even argue—a necessary part of life. There is this growing thought and belief that rejection is something that we cannot and should not experience, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case, nor was it ever promised unto us. While I do realize that what is presented before us in this passage of Scripture does not necessarily speak of rejection in the work place, nor rejection in those endeavors we attempt within our lives, nor rejection in any other place we might very well experience, we must realize and understand that rejection is a necessary part of our lives. What’s more, is I would dare say that we must needs anticipate and perhaps even expect rejection, and should never go into any situation with the underlying expectation that we are going to be received, that we are going to be welcomed, and that we are somehow promised success. IN all reality, I would dare say that success and being received are two of the greatest needs we have within our hearts and souls, and we long to be received by others and to experience success in all our endeavors and everything we do. With that being said, however, I am absolutely and completely convinced that rejection is a must needs part of our lives, as rejection is something that is a catalyst for growth and maturity. We cannot and must not think and perceive that we can grow and mature in our walk with the Lord if we are unable to handle and deal with rejection. We cannot and must not think and consider—even for a moment—that we can truly walk in that which the living and eternal God has called, ordained and appointed for and unto us. What’s more, is the fact that if and as you read the Scriptures you will find that rejection was a normal way of life for many—if not all—of the ancient prophets, as well as the apostles and early Church. Oh it was indeed true that the apostles would experience success in certain areas, and there would be marginal success in certain areas, while virtually no success in other areas, however, if you read the New Testament book of Acts—even the second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints—you will find that rejection was a normal and necessary part of life. Not only this, but rejection, suffering, opposition, affliction, trial, trouble, and hardship more often than not go hand in hand with each other and can be experienced simultaneously.

            With all of this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the awesome and powerful truth that it is okay for us to move on from rejection. Would it shock and surprise you to hear and consider the truth that it is absolutely okay to move on from the rejection we experience within our lives—and not only from the rejection we face within our lives, but also from the feelings, the thoughts and the emotions we face and experience as a result of that rejection? What if I told you that it is okay to move on and move forward from rejection—and not only from rejection, but also from the negative and oftentimes crippling and paralyzing feelings that are connected to it? Would you be surprised if I told you that it is okay to  not remain stuck, stagnant and stale in that place of rejection, nor in the thoughts and feelings that are connected with it? We tend to allow ourselves to get caught up in rejection, and we tend to allow it to paralyze and cripple us, and as a direct result of this we are unable to move on and move forward to what the Lord has in store for us next. There is not a doubt in my mind that rejection isn’t always a negative and adverse event and occurrence within our lives, and is more often than not a wonderful and powerful invitation to move on from that place and to move forward to the next one. If we allow ourselves to get caught up and consumed with rejection and the thoughts and feelings that are directly connected and associated with them we might very well find ourselves paralyzed in that place and unable to move on to that which the living God has in store for us next. Much like those during the generation in which Jesus Christ the Son of the living God walked upon the earth who were paralyzed and confined to a mat, and confined to a specific place within Judaea, Galilee, Jerusalem, and the surrounding region—those who were unable to move themselves from that place they were currently found within and bound to—we ourselves are bound, crippled and paralyzed in that place of rejection as we prevent ourselves from moving forward to that which the Lord has for us next. If and as you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find a powerful invitation and instruction given unto the disciples when they experienced rejection in a specific city, town and village, and it is this instruction I am convinced needs to be understood and practiced within our hearts and lives.

            SHAKE THE DUST OFF! SHAKE THE DUST OFF YOUR FEET! I am absolutely and completely convinced that this particular piece of instruction given by Jesus unto the disciples is such a powerful piece of instruction that must needs be present and practiced within our hearts and lives. There is not a doubt in my mind that there are countless men and women who need to not only hear, but also learn how to shake off the dust of their feet. I read these words and I am immediately brought face to face with the tremendous truth that these words must needs be understood, realized and practiced by countless men and women within this generation, as men and women desperately need to learn how to shake off the dust of their feet. What’s more, is directly linked and connected with shaking off the dust of our feet there is also a great need to brush our shoulders off in those place we experience rejection, in those place we experience failure, in those places things don’t go as we thought or imagined. Would it shock and surprise you to think and consider the fact that it’s okay to shake off the dust of your feet—even within the very place you experienced rejection? Would it take you by surprise to hear and to consider the tremendous fact that it is absolutely and entirely okay to shake off the dust of our feet, for it is more often than not in the shaking off the dust of our feet we are able to move on from that place and move forward to the next place? Not only this, but in shaking off the dust of our feet it is a powerful witness and testimony that we cannot and will not allow ourselves to be bound in that place. By shaking off the dust of our feet we are allowing ourselves to move on and move forward from that place in which we experienced rejection, in that place we experienced failure, and in that place we experience trial and trouble.

            The more I think about this wonderful and powerful truth within my own heart and life the more I am coming face to face with the fact that I am very good at allowing myself to get stuck in those places of rejection. I am and have always been good at allowing myself to get caught up and stuck in those places of rejection, as well as the feelings, the thoughts and the emotions that are directly connected and associated with them. There have been a number of times when I have allowed rejection to cripple and paralyze me—and not only cripple and paralyze me, but also hinder and stunt the growth and maturity that is so vitally needed within my heart and life. I know for a fact there have been times within my heart and life when I have experienced rejection—whether it has been rejection in relationships, rejection in ministry, rejection in the work place, or rejection in other endeavors—and I have allowed myself to get so caught up and consumed with that rejection that it has made it difficult for me to move on and move forward from that place. I have allowed myself to become so wrapped up and consumed within my head that I have been unable to move on and move forward to that which the Lord had for me. We must needs realize and recognize that so long as we allow ourselves to get caught up in the thoughts and feelings of rejection we cannot and will not be able to move on from that place into what the LORD has in store for and ahead of us. So long as we allow ourselves to get stuck and caught inside our head and our heart we might also find ourselves getting caught and stuck in a physical location as well. I sit here right now and I can’t help but consider the fact that there are times within our lives when where we are physically is a powerful picture of where we are within our heads and our hearts, as just as we are unable to move on from a physical place, so also are we unable to move on from that place within our head and our hearts. It is important and necessary that we understand this wonderful and powerful reality, for this truth and reality has the ability to set us free in many areas of our lives. This truth has the awesome ability to allow us to move ourselves from where we have been stuck and unable to move. Not only this, but the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples seems to indicate that He gave them full permission to move on from that place which would paralyze and cripple them.

            I absolutely love the instruction and invitation Jesus gave the disciples when sending them out, for not only did Jesus prepare them for rejection and persecution, and not only did He prepare them to be hated, but He also extended unto them an invitation to move on from that place of rejection—and even that place of persecution. If and as you read the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find that when the persecution broke out in the city of Jerusalem—persecution against the early Church and Christians—they moved on and went forth from that place, and would make the journey to other cities, to other towns, to other villages, and to the surrounding regions. This is something we must needs recognize, for I would dare say that there are times within our lives when rejection and persecution is not necessarily something we should allow ourselves to get caught up and consumed in, but rather is something that is a catalyst to move us forward and to propel us forward from that place. We tend to think that rejection and persecution are meant to keep us bound in that single place—whether in our minds, or whether in a physical and geographical location—and that we are unable to move forward and move on from that place. I know this is true as there have been countless times within my own life when I have experienced rejection, and I have allowed that rejection to so cripple me, and so keep me stuck within my head that I have been unable to move forward from that place and step into that which the living and eternal God has purposed and planned for us. Oh I am completely convinced that one of the greatest dangers and tragedies within our lives is when we allow ourselves to get stuck in our heads—and even get stuck in our hearts—and as a direct result we are unable to move on and move forward from that place.

            IT’S OKAY TO SHAKE THE DUST OFF! IT’S OKAY TO MOVE ON! IT’S OKAY TO MOVE FORWARD! IT’S OKAY TO NOT REMAIN STUCK AND BOUND IN THAT PLACE! IT’S OKAY TO LET GO! I have to admit that in all the years I have read these words which are found in the gospel narratives written by the apostle Matthew, the physician Luke, as well as John Mark, I have never seen this concept of shaking the dust off our feet, and it being okay to move on. In the fourteenth verse of the tenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find Jesus declaring unto His disciples that whosoever would not receive them, nor hear their words—when they departed out of that house or that city—they were to shake off the dust of their feet. What’s more, is that when Jesus spoke unto the disciples about experiencing persecution in one city He declared unto them that it was okay to flee to another and to essentially move on. These two concepts—shaking the dust off and moving on—are such realities and concepts which we must needs recognize and understand within our hearts and our lives, for they have the ability to produce growth and maturity within us. I am absolutely and completely convinced that one of the hardest things to do within our heads, within our hearts, and within our lives is to move on from experiencing rejecting—regardless of whether that rejection is real or imagined. One of the single greatest struggles we have within our day to day lives is to be able to not only move on from rejection we’ve received and experienced, and to let go of it without dwelling on it and allowing it to consume our thoughts and captivate our feelings and our emotions. I know that this has personally been a struggle for me as I know I have experienced rejection at certain points within my life—rejection in relationships, rejection in ministry, rejection in the workplace, and other venues. There have been times within my life when I have personally found it difficult to move from that rejection, and have allowed it to fester like a splinter within my heart and mind until it eventually crippled and paralyzed me. There have been times when the rejection has been so deeply embedded within my heart and mind that I have been unable to move past and move beyond it to that which the Lord has next for me. There have been times within my life when I have allowed myself to remain stagnant and stale in a place I was never meant, nor was I ever intended to remain in—even if I was originally sent to that place.

            EVEN IF I WAS ORIGINALLY SENT TO THAT PLACE! Pause for a moment and think about that, and the tremendous impact and effect that would have upon your life. Stop and think about the fact that it is possible for you to have been sent to a specific place—a place divinely ordained and orchestrated by the true and living God—and yet there in that place you were not only rejected, but you also weren’t received. Lest you think that this is somehow something far fetched and too far out in left field I would invite you to consider the fact that Jesus Christ the Son of God came to His own, was divinely sent here to the earth according to the sovereign will and plan of the living God, and yet not only was He not received, but He was despised and rejected. It was Jesus Himself who said that a servant is not above their master, and if Jesus Himself was despised and rejected—what makes us think that we are any different and are any better? What makes us think that we too cannot and might not be despised and rejected within our own lives—even in those places we have been called and sent? What makes us think that even though we journey to that place the living and eternal God has called, ordained and appointed for us we cannot and will not experience rejection, can and might very well be despised, and might even be cast aside by others? I guarantee you any rejection you experience within your life cannot and will not amount to being killed, put to death and crucified as was Jesus the Christ, but you have experienced and will continue to experience rejection nonetheless. The more I think about this reality the more I am absolutely and completely convinced that we have never been promised success within this life, we have never been promised being received in this life, we have never been promised that we will be loved in this life, and we were never promised that we will be welcomed. When Jesus sent the disciples out into the cities, the towns and the villages in Israel they were places these men were sent to directly by and directly from the Son of God, and yet in those places they could and might very well experience rejection and would not be received.

            It is absolutely necessary that we pay close and careful attention to these words which are found within these passages of Scripture, for they bring us face to face with the reality that it is possible to go into those places where we have been sent by God—and even do that which we have been called by Jesus the Christ to do—and yet experience rejection therein. What I so love and appreciate about the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the disciples is that not only did He give them permission to shake off the dust of their feet, but Jesus also gave them permission to move on from that place they weren’t received, and that place where they were despised and rejected. Would it surprise you to hear and understand that it was not only okay to shake the dust off our feet when we experience rejected within our lives—even in those places wherein we have been called and sent—but to also move on from those places? If there is one thing we must recognize and understand it’s that we have been given permission to move on from those rejections we experience, and to move forward to that next place the Lord has destined and purposed for us. If there is one thing I absolutely love when reading the words which are found in these chapters it’s that when we enter into places and aren’t received we have been given permission to move on from that place—and not only move on from that place, but also to shake the dust off of our feet. I would dare say there are a number of people right now who desperately need to shake the dust off their feet—whether literally or figuratively speaking. There are men and women who right now need to rise up from those places they have allowed themselves to be bound to, and to shake the dust off their feet. What’s more, is I would dare say that until you are willing to shake the dust off your feet you will be unable to truly move on from that place you have received and experienced rejection and have found yourself being paralyzed and crippled. What’s more, is it’s okay to shake the dust off your heart in order for you to move on from that place you experienced rejection. It’s okay to shake the dust off of your mind that you might move on from that place you have experienced rejection. It’s okay to shake the dust off your souls that you might move on and move forward to that next place within your journey in this life. There are countless men and women who desperately need to shake the dust off their hearts, shake the dust off their minds, shake the dust off their souls—even shake the dust off their dreams, their goals, their desires and their ambitions that they might truly move on and move forward to that next place the Lord has called them.

            The more I read and consider the words which are found in these passages the more I am convinced that not only are we given permission to move on from those places of rejection, but we are also given permission to shake the dust off our feet—not only as a sign within that place of rejection, but also as a sign that we have truly and indeed moved on from that particular place. I absolutely love this forward progression that is found within these passages of Scripture, for nowhere within these passages will you find Jesus ever speaking unto His disciples and instructing them to remain in that place they experienced rejection, nor remaining in that place they weren’t received. The words which are found in these passages of Scripture provide us with a powerful picture of how not only are we never to turn back while walking with and following Jesus, but so also are we instructed to always move forward and to never allow ourselves to get caught up and stuck in those place of rejection, those places of perceived or recognized failure, and those places where we perhaps have not experienced success—regardless of whether or not it is in ministry, or in the work place, or in relationships. Oh I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly gripped with and by the fact that we as the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ have been given permission to move forward and to move on from those places where we have experienced rejection, and those places we have been despised and not welcomed. We would be incredibly naïve to think and believe that we are going to be received and welcomed everywhere we go, and we would be incredibly naïve to believe the false reality that we are going to be received, welcomed, embraced and loved everywhere we go. In fact, when preparing His disciples for the ministry side of discipleship Jesus would prepare them to be cast out of synagogues, to be rejected and not be received, to  be persecuted, and to even be hated. I fully realize and recognize that it goes against everything you have thought and believed concerning this life when you hear the words you have been prepared to be hated, however, this is the truth of the gospel which must be recognized and understood. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the powerful truth that we were never promised to be loved within this life and within this world. We have never been promised a life without and apart from rejection, not have we ever been promised a life where we can and will be received everywhere we journey. What’s more, is we have not been promised success in everything we do, and this reality brings us face to face with the reality that there will be times when we experience failure, and there will even be times when we experience defeat in this life.

            SHAKE THE DUST OFF AND MOVE ON! There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest pieces of advice many within this generation desperately need to hear is that not only is it okay to shake the dust off their feet and move on, but they also have great need of doing so. It is absolutely impossible to step into that which the Lord has for us if we continue to allow ourselves to be captivated and bound in those places of past failure, those places of past rejection, and even those places of defeat. When Jesus sent His disciples out two by two to engage themselves in ministry within the cities, towns and villages within the land of Israel He did not prepare them, nor did He set them up with the expectation and anticipation that everywhere they went they would experience triumph, victory, success, and the like. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome reality, for it has the ability to dramatically alter and transform how we live our lives and how we conduct ourselves within our every day lives. I am absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that we have been given permission from our Lord to not remain and to not get stuck in those places we have experienced failure and rejection, and have been instructed to move forward and to move on. With this being, I feel compelled to emphatically declare that I fully recognize that this is sometimes—perhaps even oftentimes—easier said than done. I fully realize that it is easier said than done to move forward and to move on—especially when our hearts and our minds are so captivated and so consumed with feelings of failure and rejection. In all reality, I would dare say that two of the greatest traps within our hearts and our minds is the trap of failure and rejection—feeling within our hearts and our minds that we have failed and are somehow unable to move forward and move on. Moreover, there is an incredibly dangerous trap to remain confined, bound, paralyzed and crippled in that place of rejection, and as a direct result to be unable—perhaps even unwilling—to move on from that place and move forward to the next place the living and eternal God has for us. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand that it can be absolutely and utterly crippling and paralyzing to remain in those places we have been rejected, in those places we have faced and experienced failure, and even in those places we have faced and experienced defeat.

            SHAKE THE DUST OFF, DON’T BRING IT WITH YOU TO THE NEXT PLACE! YOU CAN’T TRANSPLANT DUST FROM ONE PLACE TO THE NEXT! LEAVE YOUR OLD DUST BEHIND! LEAVE THE DUST BEHIND! LEAVE THE REJECTION BEHIND! LEAVE THE DUST OF REJECTION BEHIND! As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary that we allow ourselves to encounter and come face to face with the truly incredible and wonderful reality that not only were we instructed to shake the dust off our feet, but by shaking the dust off our feet we are essentially and effectively leaving it behind in that place. The simple instruction of shaking the dust off is more than simply a witness within that place of rejection and that place of failure and defeat, for it is also a powerful demonstration that we are unwilling to take the dust of that place to the next place the Lord has called us to enter. By shaking the dust off we find ourselves in the beautiful place where we can leave the dust behind—the dust of rejection, the dust of failure, the dust of defeat, the dust of everything we faced and experienced in that place we have been instructed to move on from. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this truly awesome and beautiful truth, for this reality brings us face to face with the awesome fact that we were never instructed to carry the dust from those places we have experienced failure and rejection into those new places we have been called to move forward to move on to. By shaking the dust off our feet we are leaving the dust behind and powerfully and wonderfully demonstrating that we are not bringing the experience from that place with us into the next. If there is one thing I can’t help but come face to face with it’s that more often than not we have the tendency to carry and bring the experiences of our past into those places we have been called to journey and move on to. When we shake the dust off our feet we are demonstrating before and unto the Lord that we are not willing to allow ourselves to get stuck in that place of our past, and that we are willing to move forward and move on to the next. It is an incredibly dangerous and tragic habit and practice to bring the dust of our past failures, rejection, and defeat into those places we have been called to journey to. It is absolutely critical and vital for our walk as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ to shake the dust off our feet as we a witness to that place, but also as a testimony for and unto ourselves as we are telling ourselves that it’s okay to move forward and move on to that next place the Lord has called and instructed us.

If there is one thing I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to within this writing it’s that failure and rejection are not only a necessary and vital part of life, but they are a vital part of discipleship as well. We must needs recognize and understand that rejection is in fact a necessary part of discipleship and walking with the Lord Jesus the Christ, as it allows us the ability to move forward and move on to that next place. When Jesus sent His disciples out two by two He prepared them for opposition, He prepared them for war, He prepared them for persecution, He prepared them for failure (whether perceived and realized), He prepared them for rejection, and He even prepared them to be hated. This is something we must needs pay close attention to and hold dear within our hearts and our souls, for so long as we are unwilling to shake the dust off our feet within those places we have experienced rejection, failure and defeat we will be unable to move forward and move on to that which the Lord has for us. What’s more, is that I would say that not only are we instructed to shake the dust off our feet as we prepare to move on to the next place, but we are also to not revisit the dust from our past. NEVER REVISIT THE DUST YOU HAVE SHAKEN OFF YOUR FEET! There is a great need for us to shake the dust off our feet—and not only to shake the dust off our feet, but also to leave the dust behind, to refuse to bring the dust with us into the next place we have been called, and to refuse to revisit the dust from our past. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are ready, willing and able to shake the dust off our feet and truly move on to the next place the Lord has called and brought us into. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are truly willing to not only shake the dust off our feet, but also to move forward and move on to the next place the Lord has called and instructed us journey to within this life of discipleship.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s