“And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” —Mark 6:11
Jesus sent out his followers on their first mission without him. He didn’t allow them to take much with them, either, only the shoes on their feet and the shirt on their backs. They would go out in pairs, from town to town, confronting evil and calling people to return to God. Jesus warned them that they would be rejected, because not everybody would believe in him. The disciples would be mocked, silenced, hated, and persecuted. Many would not trust them or give them a chance in the first place. Even worse, many would curse them and wish harm to come upon the disciples because of who they were, what they believed, and what they were doing.
The world can be a ruthless, merciless place. At work people can be vicious and backstabbing, at home family can be cold and crippling, at school peers can be judgmental and shaming. We’re mocked for how we look, the ways we’ve failed, where we come from, and how much we make. The world often condemns what we stand for, our mission, and our individual dreams. Singer songwriter Jason Isbell delivers a devastating line in his song Chaos and Clothes, “…But nobody ever wants to hear about my dreams.” Even if they did, they’d tell us they were wrong, anyway.
So you better not be fat, skinny, white, black, Republican, Democrat, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, perpetrator, victim, zealous, apathetic, rich, poor, powerful, weak, successful, failing, attractive, ugly, African, European, smart, or dumb. You better not be any of these, because the world will crush you, mock you, reject you, and throw dust in your face.
How do you handle the dust?
Jesus told the disciples to be ready for antagonism and rejection. He said to them, “And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” The word “dust” has deep roots in the Bible, going all the way back to the first chapters of Genesis. Right after Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God cursed Satan and told him he’d eat dust like a snake for the rest of his life. Then God told Adam that he would return to dust when he died. So dust symbolizes both “curse” and “death.”
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Enemy is constantly trying to throw dust in our faces, covering us with cursing and death. Day after day he wants us to feel like we’re cursed and rejected. He wants us to get confused about who we are, whether anyone loves us, and how we’ll ever survive.
But Jesus empowers us to do something about it. Jesus commands us to shake it off, right back onto the enemy. In fact, according to Jesus, it’s not good to let this dust pile up on us, layer after layer, week after week, year after year. Jesus says we need to shake it off as soon as it gets on us. In fact, he commands us to do it. This is his prescription for handling rejection and maintaining your integrity.
It’s not just a metaphor, either, but Jesus really wants us to shake the dust from our lives. This might be incredibly therapeutic for you to try. Bring to mind the curses you’re carrying, and then physically shake them off. Play some music if you need to, do a freedom dance, and shake the dust from yourself. Shake off their curses, gossip, slander, backstabbing, ridicule, and threats! Don’t let it stay on you, because Jesus says it’s not yours to bear, but theirs. So shake it baby, shake it!
Do the dust dance as a testimony against those who want to stop you.
- Are you carrying around some dust? How have you been rejected? It’d be best if you could talk honestly about it with a trusted person in your life.
- What are your dreams? We’d love to hear about them!
- Plan your own dust dance. What music will you play? Where will you go? Will you be dancing with just you and God or is there someone else that needs to be there? When will you do it? Remember, don’t let the dust pile up.