One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in acts 13:51. It’s says, But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
When I came across this verse for the first time I stopped. I read it and reread it over and over again. Now you may be wondering why? Why is this verse in my favorites list. You have to understand the text in which it comes from. Within this text/story, you will be opened up to a new level of understanding of the power we hold within us towards those who work against us. See, Paul and the other disciples went into Antioch and it is there that Paul stood up in a crowd in the synagogue and began to speak of the gospel of Christ. He was speaking to the Jews and the gentiles. The Jews chose to ignore what he was saying, refusing to listen, they walked out of the synagogue leaving only the gentiles. The gentiles soaked it all in and felt love and hope and asked for Paul and the other disciples to come back and preach to them again on the following sabbath. So they returned and awaiting Paul and Barnabas was a huge crowd that filled the whole city. When the Jews saw this they were angry and envious.
So what did they do? They got together all the devout and honorable women and the chief men of the city and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas and got them kicked out of the city. It is here in the story that the above verse is then stated. “They shook off the dust of their feet against them.” Paul and Barnabas were doing the work of God. The work that God called them to do. But does that mean that the work they were doing was easy or that it came without trials. No. They faced death, hatred, evil words, threats against them. But when times got hard and it came to this, what did they do? They shook off the dust of their feet against them and went on to the next city God led them to, Iconium.
They did not quit because they met some unbelievers that treated them badly and didn’t accept the words they were preaching. They brushed away the words, knocked the dust off their feet, and walked on, preached on. They were filled with such a joy and a desire from God that even in these trials they were full of passion and love for the work they were doing. They knew that no matter what came their way, God would bless them. Whether it be in death or in victory, they would hold steadfast in the word and calling God had placed on their lives.
We can apply this to our lives today when we go out and speak into someone’s life about God or we share a personal testimony or a word we have heard. We may not always be met with a joyful and accepting spirit like the gentiles in Paul’s story. We may be met with more disgust and hatred as Paul received from the Jews. But we do not quit. We do not get discouraged. Because the Word tells us in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not grow weary in well doing.” What we are speaking or preaching about is truth. It is love and grace, mercy and faithfulness! We will probably be met with more unaccepting hearts than we will joyful hearts, but let us not grow weary! God blesses the outreach. He blesses the work we are doing. When we are down about the “no” that we received, let us remember the reaction Paul and Barnabas had, dust off the hatred, dust away the hateful words, and move on to the next heart that needs to hear the truth. God is the best example of perseverance and although we will never be able to fill his shoes (Acts 13:25). We can be guided and lead by Him and he will bless us in doing so.
So go out into your world, my world, our world and be the light that shines in the darkness. Be the joy and love that is felt through all the hate and sadness. Be the Paul and Barnabas of our world. Even if you come in contact with hate, choose to shake it off and love anyways. We have a cheat sheet for our lives that was written by the brothers and sisters who came before us. They teach us how to navigate through the ins and outs of our lives. We follow their lead because they have been there. They have seen it first hand and now we have the answers as well. We have the secret the world needs. The answer. We have the hope the world is missing and with hope comes great power and victory. Let us not keep it tucked away and hidden. Let us shout it from the rooftops. Let’s yell it so loud that all the bad is drowned out.
Go out and be a Paul.