Shake The Dust Off Your Feet - Directions From Jesus
How many times have I been preaching over the past 4 years, at our homeless shelter, to people who could care less about God's plan for peace with them? We warn them about Hell, we warn them about sin that destroys lives, we tell them about Jesus sacrifice... and nothing penetrates them, as far as we can see. Not only does the word not move them, in many cases they actively reject the word.
What are we to do with these people? We will not cease to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but what do we do with these people?
Jesus, in his infinite wisdom, taught his disciples about people like this.
Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Jesus knew before he sent out his disciples that there would be people who will not and can not accept the word of God, and more than just being apathetic, they are antagonistic towards God and His people. What does Jesus say? He doesn't tell us to "tone down" the message, or make it "seeker friendly", no instead he warns us to not bother with those people because they will waste your time and turn on you.
Shortly after this teaching, Jesus sends out the 12 disciples to preach the Gospel, and in the middle of his instructions to them and the warnings of what they should expect, Jesus gives this pointed instruction saying...
Matthew 10:14-15 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. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
What does this mean? This is a figurative expression, similar to our "washing our hands of it" expression. What Jesus is telling them is that they are to go and bring his message to everyone, but to those who refuse to receive them or listen to their message, then they have done what they could and they are free to move on. The rejection of the Gospel is one of the highest affronts to God that can be made.
We see Jesus instructions put into practice in Acts 13:50-51 where Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.
Does this mean that no one who was antagonistic towards the Gospel at one time will never hear the Gospel again or have the opportunity to repent and follow Jesus? No, but if there is an opportunity to tell 10 receptive people about the Gospel or stand around and argue with the one who is adamantly opposed to the Gospel, then why would we want to squander our limited opportunities? That also isn't to say that a debate with someone that can bring out the truth of the Gospel can't be effective towards others around that are listening either, but when you have a room full of people who do not care about the Gospel, then cut it short and move along.
That's why The Discipleship Center is different at it's core. We are not a food pantry. We are not a homeless shelter. We are not a drug rehab center. We are not a temp agency. We are not a poor farm. We are a ministry looking to make disciples. How do we find these disciples? We request referrals from Pastors, Godly Families, and of like faith Para-Church organizations who can give us a honest history of a person. We don't disqualify former drug or alcohol abusers, those who have been incarcerated, those who are homeless, ect. but we don't take people just because they are hard on their luck either. We want to know if these people are trainable, are interested in hearing God's word, or are they hard towards God and stuck in their own ways, refusing to respect any type of authority.
Since we have limited facilities, we only take the best possible candidates, and put them in the best possible learning environment, to give them the best opportunity to see God in a whole different light and themselves as they really are, so that someday they can return to society with a renewed mind ready to do Gods will in everyday life.