By Tanja Lunney
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.” -Romans 1:16 CSB
If there has been one common question in the family of God, it is what is my purpose? Or phrased a little bit differently, what is God’s Will? Throughout scripture we see regular people like you and I healing the sick, setting people free from demons, multitudes being set free through the blood of Jesus, and fire dropping down from heaven and huge crowds speaking in tongues. God’s will and desire for us to be apart of the miraculous power found through the Holy Spirit has never changed. However, I have seen over and over and even dealt with myself a few of these common denominators of why people do not live in fulfillment of the power of the Holy Spirit.
The biggest reason why I have seen people not living out the true will of God is because of their fear of man rather than obedience to God. When you are a follower of Jesus Christ you are faced with an abundance of rejection and even hatred for fulfilling the will of the father. If we hold onto the rejection of man rather than the acceptance of God, we are filled with grief, sorrow, and guilt which we were never meant to carry. In fact, there is a common phrase that Jesus speaks to the disciples as he charges them to spread the Good News. You can find this phrase throughout Acts, Matthew 10:14-22, Mark 6:7-13, and Luke 9:5.
If they do not accept you, shake the dust off your feet.
Specifically, in Acts 13, we are shown Paul and Barnabas spreading the gospel through the region. As they were leaving, the people were urging them to stay and talk more about the Good News of Jesus Christ. Huge crowds were coming to hear the good news and experience the salvation and love found through Jesus Christ. However, there was one problem, the Jews were jealous. I could write a whole additional post on jealousy and envy and how demonic it is, but I will save that for another time. These Jews were so jealous of Paul and Barnabas that they banned them from coming back! I know what you are thinking, “you mean to tell me that they were fulfilling the will of God and sharing the love of Jesus and they were being expelled from areas because of people’s jealously?” Yes, that is exactly what the bible says.
Advertisements - Click the Speaker Icon for Audio
So many people, including myself in the past, have their expectations in the wrong place. We oftentimes try to please man and say it is fulfilling the will of God. When the motives of our hearts are to please people, when people hurt us, we stop doing what God asked us to do. We think that just because we are rejected, it could not possibly be fulfilling the will of God. However, this could not be further from the truth. Jesus himself did not even accept man’s glory,
“I do not accept glory from people, but I know you—that you have no love for God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and yet you don’t accept me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, since you accept glory from one another but don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God? -John 5:41-44 CSB
The truth is, as Jesus spoke, the only acceptance and glory we should truly be after is what God so freely wants to share with us. You and I, while fulfilling the purpose God has for us, are going to face many challenges and possibly even pruning some people-pleasing. When people do not accept what you have to say about Jesus, understand it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their hearts. Maybe like the Jews they are dealing with jealousy and envy or maybe they are not ready to hear the message, but you have planted a seed that God will give growth to later.
What is important is that when you are rejected, you do not let it dull your roar or harden your heart. You are I are to shake the dust off just as Paul and Barnabas display in Acts 13.
“When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed. The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the prominent God-fearing women and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. But Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:48-52
Paul and Barnabas set their attention on those who were appointed to believe in eternal life, they were not focused on the Jews that did not accept them and eventually kicked them out of the town.
So how do we shake the dust off?
Shaking the dust off simply means understanding that those people’s reactions were not based upon you doing or not doing something. It is understanding that their reaction was based upon them not knowing Jesus and rejecting what the Holy Spirit was speaking through you. I would strongly suggest to fervently pray for those who reject or show hatred toward you. The saying is true that the people that hurt us the most are the people who are in desperate need of our prayers. Even though they did not accept what we had to say, it does not mean a seed was not planted. And it certainly does not mean we cannot pray for their hearts to be softened. God does not give up on his kids and neither should we! Shaking the dust off means rejecting the responsibility of guilt for the rejection of the message. God knows when we shake the dust off and He does not take it lightly.
If we focus on rejection and do not shake the dust off, we miss the joy of the progress this far and the appointed time for others. You are not held responsible for other people’s reactions. But you are going to be held accountable for your boldness and continuance of the Gospel. God desires us to be unashamed of the Gospel. He desires us to share the good news and if people do not accept what we have to say, we are to pray for their hearts to be softened.
Like Paul and Barnabas, if we are rejected or shown hatred we should not take it personally and understand that this is a spiritual war, it is not us being rejected it is the Holy Spirit in us that they do not like. Remember there was a time in both our lives that the scales did not fall off, yet but we were so desperately searching for Jesus. Thank God for the people who prayed for us and planted seeds along the way. Thank God for the forgiveness that we have for hurting those people unintentionally because we were lost. We must now be those people who shake the dust off and are unashamed of the Gospel. While there may be people who are not ready to receive the gospel, there is a field ready to be harvested. It is as simple as shaking the dust off of the past and sharing what God has done in your life.
Are you willing to be bold and unashamed of the Gospel?
“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work,” Jesus told them. “Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, and then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, because they are ready for harvest. -John 4:34-35 CSB