Shake the dust from your feet

But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.

Acts 13:50-51

Have you ever been to see a film and thought that it was so brilliant that you recommend it to all your friends?  It can be rather disappointing if some of them go, but tell you that actually they didn’t think it was all that good.  Maybe you’ve read a book and thought it was outstanding, and have then felt rather let down when a friend who read it on your recommendation thought it was poor.  It can be rather upsetting when you think that you’ve got something great to share with your friends, but they don’t share your excitement.

Despite the fact that he was followed by crowds everywhere he went, Jesus often had moments of disappointment, when people didn’t accept his good news.  The whole passage in our current Mark Marathon article is imbued with this disappointment when Jesus’ own neighbours reject him.  He also warns the disciples that they will encounter some people who will not listen to them or welcome them.  He tells them simply to move on, shaking the dust off their feet when they leave.

We see the same thing in today’s verses.  Paul and Barnabas have not had a particularly warm reception in Antioch, where they have been preaching and teaching.  Whilst many of the Gentiles who heard them were delighted to have heard the gospel, many of the prominent Jews in the city were not so keen.  They turned to the leaders of the city for support, and together stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and banned them from the city.  Were they concerned?  No, they simply shook the dust off their shoes and moved on.

Both in Jesus words, and the experiences of Paul and Barnabas, it is clear that there will be some who do not want to hear the gospel.  What should we do if people don’t want to listen to the gospel when we talk to them?  We shouldn’t be downcast.  Instead, we should walk away and turn to our next group of people.

Be prepared for lack of success when you talk to your friends about your faith, but don’t give up sharing the gospel.  Simply turn to someone else.

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