Disciples and Dust

If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them. Mark 6:11


The image of shaking the dust off one’s feet and moving on appears in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke as well as in one passage of Acts. During biblical times Jewish people considered the very ground of Israel so holy, that when they returned home from any other place, they would before stepping onto their home turf, stop and remove the dust from their feet. The idea was that the holy land wouldn’t get contaminated by the less than holy dirt between their toes.

Of course the dirt itself wouldn’t corrupt Israel, but the less than holy experiences on that ground might. But for many, this image of shaking off the dust is more than a “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” moment. It was an action that some see as an in your face door slamming for those who ignore or reject the good news of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. That somehow is we do not reenact this dusting, shaking, door slamming, shunning of non-believers, we are somehow no longer holy, but corrupted or infected by the atheists, agnostics, heathens, non-believers, idolaters, or the very dust of the place we encountered them.

Dust… for me it is the word that leapt off the page this week. And as I worked with the text from Mark during the week I came to realize that it was more than the stuff I was cleaning up at home as we readied the house for dinner guests on Friday. Dust does seem to get everywhere, it does corrupt and infect in a sense, but the Mark text is not about using pledge or swiffers to reclaim holiness… it is about the very stuff of who we are as believers, disciples and followers of Jesus.

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Do know that a duster is more than a tool for cleaning? The informal use of the term duster today refers to a person who is absolutely garbage at a sport, game or anything really. This person is considered a “duster.” The term derives from this “duster” getting completely obliterated in anything he/she does and collects dust. Example: A person who gets left in the dust.

Someone can be considered a “dust” if they failed an exam or if your just a “dust” at anything; can be sports, school, video games, etc..

  • Getting “dusted” in Halo or Hockey
  • “Wipe that dust off your shoulders or shake it off your feet!”
  • “Wow, what a dust!” or “Your such a duster.”

Synonymous with looser, did you know that the first disciples, those Jesus sought out to heal, teach and hang out with would be considered “dusters” today?

The good news for you and me is that we don’t have to have it all together, to be Christ followers. You and I are claimed, forgiven, loved and made whole by a God of abundance who made us from dust. In a week when after decades of careful experiment, physicists say they have found the “strongest indication to date” to prove the existence of the Higgs boson–a subatomic particle so important to the understanding of space, time and matter that has been dubbed the “god particle,” dust, the stuff we are made of, the building block of all, does not contaminate, but defines us.

In the days of Jesus, one learned their trade, one became who they were, and one was defined by who the followed. In the physical following, in walking and living in the way of this Jesus, disciples, followers, and hangers-on would inevitably be covered in the dust of their master. Jesus didn’t tell the disciples to shake the dust off their feet and slam the door on disbelief. Jesus knew that the dust, those God particles shaken off his disciples’ feet would cover those who reject, scattering seeds of faith and encouraging repentance to take root.

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Do you have the dust of Jesus on you? Or do you have the dust of the distractions of the world on you?

We dusters are called and sent into the world to be disciples that do God’s work with our hands. God believes in you and dusts you abundantly with amazing grace. And the amazing thing is that each of us—no matter how strong our faith, how deep our knowledge, how deserving we may or may not feel, are loved, no matter what! And you know what? Jesus has faith in his duster disciples, entrusting his ministry, sending us as he sent them, to share the dust, the life and the way.

Do you have the dust of Jesus on you? Mother Theresa did and dusted others with Jesus. She said::

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Jesus gives you faith, feeds, forgives and empowers you to follow, feeding and forgiving others, living like Jesus as the body of Christ. Being like Jesus, means following the way, sharing bread for with the hungry, and offering to be forgiveness and friend for the broken and lonely. Our journey through life to death is always a journey with and towards God, covered in the dust of following Jesus.

May you believe in God, but may you come to see that God believes in you.

May you have faith in Jesus, but may you come to see that Jesus has faith that you can be like him.

  • A person of love and compassion and truth.
  • A person of forgiveness and peace and grace and joy and hope.

And may you be covered in the dust of the one we follow, Jesus. Amen.

(closing prayer from Rob Bell)


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