January 8, 2010

Shake It Off

Luke describes in the 10th chapter of his gospel (Luke 10:1-16) how Jesus sent out about 70 people into the "harvest field" of ministry. Their lone purpose was to tell the towns and villages they traveled to about the Kingdom of God. If the Good News of the Kingdom was welcomed there was peace and healing, if the message was rejected the disciples were instructed to tell the people, "Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near" (vs 11).

This passage (and a conversation w/a friend) got me thinking about the ministry involved in "shaking the dust from one's shoes" and moving on. It seems to me that there are times in ministry when we must shake the dust off and walk away. A couple important points to make about this before going any further...

-Notice that the 70 (or 72 depending on your version) made an attempt to engage in ministry before walking away.

-There are clearly some who will respond to the message of the Kingdom and others who won't. We must remember that this is not about you or me but rather about the news of God's kingdom.

-The kingdom of God is coming whether people accept it or not.

Has there ever been a time when you needed to walk away from ministry with someone? Do you think it's possible that shaking the dust off and walking away from a particular ministry situation is ever the best option? The more I think about it, the more I begin to see how the ministry of walking away could certainly be a powerful thing for everyone involved.


Gisele said...

Did they continue to pray for the town as they walked away? Hope that someone else's words or approach would make a difference? Does God still "harden hearts" as the Old Testament reads?

There's definitely a time to "walk away." Probably means a lot of prayer and willingness to not let ego (worrying about a sense of failure) be involved in the decision.

emily said...

i think it's so hard to not feel a sense of failure in these situations, which makes the "walking away" that much harder. i want so much for them to be reached and am saddened by having to accept the fact that there's nothing more i can do or that my time would be better spent somewhere else. it's definitely a huge reminder that i am powerless and not in charge.

Matt Lipan said...

Gisele: thanks for the thoughts.

i think you ask some great questions. no idea if they prayed as they walked away, seems like great advice for us though. "harden hearts"...that's a tough one...

i like your question about "someone else's words or approach" because it points out that we all have different strengths in ministry. each of us use different approaches that will work in different situations, which makes the significance of the Church as the Body of Christ w/different parts that much more important.

another good point of connecting ego w/a sense of failure, or the perception of failure.

thanks for sharing!

Matt Lipan said...

emily: thanks for sharing your thoughts.

that perception of failure sure is tough to overcome or get past. i would tend to think that the disciples did not feel as though they were failures but rather, and i think Jesus reminds them, that it wasn't about them but His message, "He who rejects you rejects me" (vs 16).

i like your point about how we use our time. it does become a stewardship issue when we fail to walk away and on to the next "harvest field".

good stuff, thanks again for sharing!