Malcolm’s Monday Meditation: “Dealing with Dust”

A little while ago I wrote a post called, “People are not washing machines“.  It’s time for another washing-machine-related-post (an WMRP).

We moved into a new home last year. It was, in the words of my wife, a “fixer-upper”. It had been empty for 18 months, and rented out for the previous two years. Let’s just say that maintenance had not been high on the agenda during that time.

An unexpected blessing was that the fridge and washing machine had been left behind. Both were newer than the ones we brought with us. Ours went to needy friends, and we kept the in situ appliances.

A year on and it was time to fix up and improve the house. Part of the renovations involved the kitchen, and so this week I pulled the washing machine out from its slot under the kitchen counter. What did I find, but an instruction booklet.

We don’t know how long it had been there. Long enough for a thick layer of dust to accumulate!

Dust is not delightful. As someone who has lived in a designated dust zone for three months while building work has gone on around us, I can tell you that dust was not designed to be in our hair, our eyes or our dinner. I took a sponge to the manual and wiped the dust off.  The colour came to life, the text became readable and a sneezing fit was avoided. All good things.

Did you realise that dust was an essential part of the evangelism strategy of Jesus? No? Well, have a look here,

“If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” (Luke 9:5 NIV11)

There it is. Are you shaking the dust off of your feet, shoes, or flip-flops? What does Jesus have in mind? If people are not interested in the good news, why isn’t simply leaving the area enough? Why shake off the dust? In the context of the time it seems to have been a symbol of judgment. Jewish travelers might perform this action when they came back from a visit to pagan territory.

But might there be another reason? Not only does Jesus ask his disciples to let the unreceptive town know they have rejected their opportunity to be part of true Israel, but I wonder if the action reminded his followers that there is a time to move on. We can get sentimental. We can become fixed to a false hope. How do we know when it is time to move on? Let me suggest four ways, which will, conveniently, spell “D.U.S.T”.

  1. Deaf. In a parallel passage Jesus said, “If anyone will not…listen to your words,” (Matthew 10:14 NIV11). If your sharing is falling on deaf ears it is time to move on. Are your friends prepared to at least listen?
  2. Unfriendly. Jesus said, “If people do not welcome you…”. He’s not talking about first impressions, since the disciples are to stay in the house. But if unfriendliness persists, the heart is not open.
  3. Stubborn. Jesus became “distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:5 NIV11) because some people around him would not listen to him even though he did miracles. If the fruit of the Spirit in your life does not cause people to open their hearts to God, it may be time to move on.
  4. Testers. Some people occupy our time simply to test us – and not in a good way! Jesus found this with the Pharisees who “came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven.” (Mark 8:11 NIV11). He gives them a brief answer, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” – which is really no answer at all, and then “he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.” (Mark 8:13 NIV11-GK) – he got out of there!

There is more that could be said on the subject, of course, but this will do for now. What are your thoughts on this topic? Is some dust gathering on your shoes which needs to be shaken off? Are you in the company of the deaf, the unfriendly, the stubborn or the testers? Perhaps it’s time to seek some new company!

Until the next time, I hope you have a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm

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