Friday, February 5, 2010

Wiping The Dust From Your Feet

Recently we invited someone to our home for conversation. I say conversation because it was someone from another church/denomination that we are not a part of. It is also an organization that a family member has recently become interested in. I had a few preconceived ideas of what I thought this denomination believed in but I wanted to make sure I knew 100% before I gave my full opinion. I also knew that this group of people seemed to be pursuing this family member in a very intentional, gentle, loving, grace filled manner. My heart attitude was to be just as intentional in finding out what the differences and concerns might be.

This blog will not be about which denomination nor which family member I am referencing. It is about the deliberate act and reference of one of the person's we invited in. For the record,the invitation into our home towards these people was a direct result of their visit to us. They had received information from someone in their denomination in the state that my family member lives in, and they were told that we had questions.

Once we established and understood (in a VERY polite and friendly manner on both sides) what the theological differences truly were (and it was obvious neither of us were budging in our beliefs) and what the purpose of our questions were, we ended our time briefly talking about other topics outside of religion. For all intents and purposes it was a nice visit. At the end of our time together as they walked to the front door the wife walked out first and the husband stayed in the door way talking a few more minutes. As he turned to go through the door I happened to glance down towards the floor and noticed as he stepped out of the door frame and onto the door mat he deliberately (but not dramatically) wiped both of his feet as if he was instead entering the house and not the outside. I meant to say something to my husband and forgot as our conversation turned towards different topics we had that night with this couple. The image kept lingering in my mind. I finally remembered to tell my husband what I noticed. He said he was probably "wiping the dust from his feet". I was familiar with this term but wanted to understand how it could apply to us and why would this couple feel the need to gesture this towards us. There are several references in the Bible to this deliberate act (Matthew 10:14, Acts 13:51, Luke 9:5, 10:11, Mark 6:11). Shaking the dust from your feet towards a person is done to symbolize a complete break in fellowship and renunciation (abandonment, denial or disavowing) of all further responsibility towards this person or people. I will confess at first I was very offended that this person felt strongly enough that he needed to show it (actions speak louder than words) even if he did not intend for us to see it. I have now taken a different approach and actually feel good that he felt the need to break fellowship and disavow us and our beliefs. You see to me this means they realized they could not penetrate our hearts and minds with their doctrine and beliefs. We were solid. We know that we know. The other thing is we did it without arguing, yelling, or finger pointing.

I have never felt so strongly against anyone that I would wipe the dust from my feet towards them. I am a firm believer in boundaries (and limiting contact if necessary) but in my opinion there is a difference in a boundary and the act of breaking fellowship and renunciation. I also realize there are times when someone may make choices and their heart may not be repentant and in order to protect yourself and those you love you must draw a deep line and shake the dust from your feet (I think these are rare times and should be done with the counsel of your pastor and church). This should also be done in the manner that the Bible tells us of in Mathew 18:15-17. The key though is to face the person. I think that is what is bothering me the most. They gave us the illusion this was a "friendly" conversation but inside their hearts were obviously not matching the appearance that they tried to convey. Their hearts were hard towards us once they realized we were not on the same page and we were unwilling to agree with them (even though it was done in a friendly -non argumentative way).

I believe you should never stop praying (and hoping) for someone who has made the choice of unrepentence or unbelief and walked long as there is breath there IS hope. There is a balance though, the Bible also tells us to be before you give to much hope (you don’t want to cast your pearls before swine) or you are to quick to wipe the dust from your feet, earnestly pray and seek Godly counsel and as hard as it is you need to confront that person.

I am glad that my husband and I apparently made it clear where we stand and that we are firm in our foundation and beliefs. I also want to strive even more to let my actions speak louder than my words, because you never know who may see an action that you do not intend for them to *see*.

*for those who do not know me personally- incase you are wondering I am a Christian- I am a member of Strong Tower Bible Church- a non denominational church.

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