July 4, 2021 “Shake The Dust”

“Shake The Dust”

2 Corinthians 12:2-10/ Mark 6:1-13

“True gospel preaching always changed the heart. It either awakens it or hardens it.” ~ Chan Kilgore

“Well, it’s just painful to see them with nothing to eat and at the same time no God. So let’s share our food and our God.” ~ Jestoni Revealed

“Evangelism is just one beggar telling another where to find bread.” ~ D. T. Niles

I’m guessing that it was during the 70’s that the Hare Krishna movement was going full swing. It was a marketing push like I had never seen. In parking lots, airports, bus stations; anywhere they were permitted to be, you would see the followers of Krishna trying their best to enlighten their fellow citizens to the joyous revelation that we humans are eternal spiritual beings trapped in a cycle of reincarnation. The first one that stopped me was in an airport, I believe. There was no mistaking who I was dealing with: the long flowing robe, the shaved head, and the overpowering smell of patchouli oil were a dead giveaway. But I’m a curious guy so I stood and listened to his pitch about the supreme god Krishna and how we are nothing more than a collection of the lives that have come before us and peace and tranquility and spiritual awareness and then it was time for me to leave. I said something about having a plane to catch, thanked him politely for his time and his concern for my, and turned to walk away – but he followed me, talking the whole time. I was done, but he wasn’t, so to put an end to this awkwardness I’ll admit that I got a little rude. In fact, I got very rude – but he did leave me alone. But, just when I thought I was out of the woods, I arrived at my gate and there was another Hare Krishna person and he was heading straight for me. What to do, what to do. That’s when I thought, “I’ll pretend that I don’t speak English.” Now, I knew how to say “I don’t understand” in Spanish, but my face might make that a little hard to believe. So as he was getting started with his spiel about eternal reincarnation and my spiritual essence I scrunched my face up as best I could and blurted out, “Je en comprends.” I know now that I totally butchered the French pronunciation and anyone who actually spoke the language would have figured me out, but this time it worked. What happened next, however, caught me off guard. Rather than apologize in the same soft, sweet voice that he had been using up to this point, he simply looked at me and with a totally different voice, he said, “O, you don’t speak English, huh bub. Yea, well catch you later,” and he walked off. Now, I’m not saying that he wasn’t sincere in his beliefs. I’m not suggesting that he was in it for the money or the fame or the glory. But I couldn’t help but feel that there might have been a better way to dismiss me than the way he did. It seemed to me that the true depth of his faith was revealed once he thought I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. But maybe not – who knows?

The twin stories in our gospel passage today give us lots to think about. The ministry of Christ has reached the point where he has become a household word, you might say. His knowledge of scripture and powers of healing have left some amazed while others felt threatened. Another camp preferred to remain skeptical of the idea that this could be the true Messiah. But skeptics have a certain power of their own. They cast doubt, they criticize, and they find fault and too often it’s the doubters and the naysayers that sway the crowds. With that in mind, let’s read the opening text from Mark 6 again, only this time from The Message:                                                                                                                   

1-2 He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He stole the show, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?” Now, we can imagine this was the reaction that Jesus got just about every place he went, but here in his hometown there was one big difference. These were folks who had known him since he was a kid.

You’ve heard the old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt?” Well, there may be something to that, because when we pick it up again a vs. 3, Mark tells us (again from The Message:)           

3 But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?” They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further. I might add, also, that by referring to Jesus as “Mary’s boy” the good folks of his hometown were showing some major disrespect. In those days, you were known by your father’s name – period, end of story. This rather snarky comment spoke to some old gossip that only the folks from Nazareth would know. My point is that even though Jesus was passed over by these folks who seemed determined not to believe, Jesus ministered to whoever he could and then simply moved on. No cheap shots, no back talk, and no catty remarks about their mothers. No, he simply “shook the dust from his feet” and went on to the surrounding villages.

In the 2nd part of this gospel text, Jesus sends his disciples out in pairs to minister to a larger area. He sends them with no food or money or even extra clothes – nothing much but the power of the Spirit. But in his instructions to them, he gives the disciples a heads up. (vs 11) If a place doesn’t welcome you or listen to you, as you leave, shake the dust off your feet as a witness against them. I have to say that this has always bothered me. I can’t help but think that Jesus is telling his disciples, “If these yahoos don’t listen to you, then just thumb your noses at them as you walk away. It serves them right.” I can’t help but think he is encouraging us to be like the Hare Krishna guy in the airport. But of course, that’s not what is going on here – not even close.

Our gospel message today is about evangelism. It is about beating the bushes and shaking the peach trees. It’s about finding the joy and the truth of our faith within ourselves and then telling that joy; telling that truth. It’s about living that joy and living that truth. But along the way, know that there will be hearts and minds that are stuck: stuck in doubt, stuck in hearsay, and stuck in fear. Shake the dust. Don’t get stuck with them. That’s what Jesus is telling us here. God’s Kingdom is for everyone – we know this – but not everyone will come to the table. When that happens, shake the dust off your feet, but at the same time we as the body of Christ might do well to make sure that we leave a good set of tracks for them to follow if they might change their minds.

Amen & Shalom

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