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Shake the Dust Off

Reference: Luke 9:1-6

Jesus sends out the disciples "to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick" in this passage in Luke. The interesting part is what he says at the end of his directions for the disciples:

"wherever people don't welcome you, leave that town and shake the dust off your feet as a warning to them." (vs.5 GNT)

A student in my youth Sunday school class when asked, "Why did Jesus tell them to do this?" replied that the shaking of the dust meant to leave the "negativity behind" as they continued on their mission journey. (Thanks, Emily)

Isn't one of the problems many Christians have about witnessing for the gospel is that we are afraid that people will reject the message, or ridicule your faith, or be angry that you even spoke to them about it? But should we be worried about the response? Just say the words, in the best way you know how, and let God's Spirit do the work that only He can do. Our testimony does not have to be perfect. It does not have to make sense to the unbeliever, because the unbeliever is invested in his way of doing and seeing things, and may simply not be able to understand what you are saying. Instant acceptance of the gospel message is rare. God, sometimes with your continuing help, sometimes without it, is the only one who can change a person's mind and heart.

When the opportunity arises, speak about Jesus and what he has done and is doing for you; then "shake off the dust" of negative emotions, and look forward to the next opportunity to witness. It is all in God's hands anyway. And if you get a positive response, rejoice with God and the angels for the saving of another lost soul.

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

The sinking of the Dorchester, which was being used to transport 930 soldiers, merchant marines, and civilians to the WWII front, was sunk by a German U-Boat. Only 230 people survived. Four chaplains gave up their life vests to others, and stood praying together on the deck as the boat sank. The chaplains consisted of a Jew, a Methodist, a Roman Catholic, and a Reformed Church in America minister. The chaplains have been honored several times for their bravery and self-sacrifice.

In later years, the survivors of the Dorchester actually got together with survivors of the U-boat that attacked them. That U-boat was later sunk itself. One of the U-boat survivors was Gerhard Buske, the executive officer. He said that at the time of the sinking, the soldiers on his submarine at first celebrated the accurate hit of the torpedo, but then lasped into silence as they realized that people were dying from their action. Buske picked up a harmonica and "blew a slow, warbling renditon of 'Amazing Grace.'

War is a divider, and a horrible way to resolve problems, though sometimes necessary to avoid greater evil or problems in the future. But, it does not need to define us afterwards. Enemies do not have to remain enemies. This is where Christ steps in to absolve the guilt associated with wartime activities.

As Buske said during a speech at a reunion with some of the Dorchester survivors:

"We ought to love when others hate; we ought to forgive when others are violent," he said. "I wish that we can say the truth to correct errors; we can bring faith where doubt threatens; we can awaken hope where despair exists; we can light up a light where darkness reigns; that we can bring joy where sorrows dominate."

The dead cannot be brought back to life. Unforgiveness only brings more sorrow and bitterness, and destroys the life of the survivors from within. Letting go of hate releases the living to truly live again.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:14 NIV)

Reference: Good News, Jan-Feb 2022, pp. 26-29, "Life Vests and Torpedoes" by Steve Beard.

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