Moving On and Going Out
6 He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Summer is here. For many parents and children, it is camp season. The packing list sent out prior to camp may sound like this:
Campers should bring:
Sneakers (two pairs)
Enough clothes for a week
A jacket or sweatshirt for cool evenings
Campers should not bring:
Money (the counselors don’t want to have to keep track of it!)
The items to bring or not bring indicate the nature of the activities campers will be doing and the relationship-building that camp will entail.
Items to bring are practical – comfortable, weather-appropriate, informal, and even in the case a camper gets wet or dirty. Everything else needed will be provided. There are to be no distractions from camp life. Campers are to focus on where they are and what they are doing for the week rather than the people and activities outside of camp.
The first step of having a positive experience at camp is to follow the initial instructions. Growing as a person, learning new things, and making new friends start from packing correctly. Following the instructions on the packing list equals full participation in the experience to come.
The same is true for followers of Christ. To fully engage in the work of Jesus, the work we have been called to do, you need to first follow his packing list. And Jesus tells us to pack light. You won’t need a lot for this experience.
Look at the packing list he gave his disciples:
One tunic with a belt
Jesus tells them not to bring:
Bread or food
A bag to carry anything
Traveling will be easier without extra stuff. No packing in the morning. Carry-on luggage won’t be a problem. No roller bag will be needed. All they will need for this experience is spelled out in the packing list. Everything else will be provided. Oh, and go in pairs.
Having a positive experience depends on following the packing list. Growing as a person, learning new things, and making new friends start from packing correctly. Bringing the right items would make the journey easier.
Jesus lets them know that they will be on the move, not staying long enough in one place to be concerned about comfort or to find the nicest place to stay. They are to be content with the accommodations provided. If they are not welcomed, not provided a place to stay, they are to “shake the dust off their feet” and move on.
Don’t obsess over those who ridicule or reject them, just move on. Poor treatment is not an excuse to give up and retreat to a place that feels safe.
Look what happened to Jesus in his hometown. He stood up in front of the very people who knew him, who watched him grow up, and heard them ridicule him. They rejected him – the son of a local carpenter, the goody two-shoes – as one having no credentials to speak in front of them. They refused to believe Jesus’ teaching, the teaching of God, and the work of God in their midst.
If people don’t recognize Jesus himself, aren’t willing to listen to his words, and refuse to believe who he is, inevitably many will fail to welcome those who come in his name.
Jesus’ instructions to the twelve: let it go. Keep moving. Keep preaching, teaching, anointing, healing, and confronting evil in my name. Your work is not results driven but action driven. So, don’t carry grudges and let go of the need to judge and don’t expect an opportunity for retribution. Don’t give in to anger, fear, or disillusionment.
It’s much more difficult to let go of this baggage than to leave a cell phone or tablet at home. It’s difficult to keep moving, to keep preaching, teaching, and healing, and to keep confronting evil when you don’t see results. It is easy to become disgruntled and to give up when things don’t go according to your plan.
Our world seems to be a place where lots doesn’t go according to plan – ours, others, or what is fair and just to the most people. Every day we hear and see new reports of violence, shootings, suffering, disasters, exploitation, exclusion, and more COVID cases.
Our hearts break for the families and friends of the victims and missing in the Surfside, Florida building collapse. We grieve along with those who have lost everything in a tornado or hurricane or wildfire. Anger grows within us every time a store, business, or school shooting occurs, and nothing is being done to stop the loss of innocent lives. We struggle to understand issues of racism and prejudice, even within ourselves.
How do you leave all that behind and shake the dust off your feet and move on? We wonder if what we do, our ministry and service, makes any difference at all. Why bother following Jesus’ packing list and instructions when not many are inviting us in. When our tunics are full of stains and rips, our sandals have no longer have a tread, and our staff is splintered. When we encounter roadblock after roadblock.
Frustration levels rise. It might be better to give up and go home. Pretend we are sick and ask the camp nurse to call our parents to pick us up. Pick up the cell phone to play games or watch cat videos on Facebook. Maybe a nice hot shower to wash the dust off and watch it go down the drain would work. Then to put on a clean pair of shorts and a comfortably worn yet clean T-shirt and sit down with a cold drink.
Packing light, heading out feeling ill-equipped for what lies ahead may be difficult. It is hard to let go of the baggage we are dragging with us: anger, fear, contempt, cynicism, fatigue. Yet, Jesus instructs us to do just that.
Jesus knew what it was like to be rejected, ridiculed, questioned, and judged. To have that happen by those who knew him and had watched him grow up was a slap in the face.
Instead of giving up, he did what he could – laid hands on a few sick people and healed them. Then he moved on. He shook the dust off his feet, went to other villages, and continued his work – proclaiming, healing, casting out demons, alleviating suffering, and calling out oppressors. Whether or not he was accepted was not a pre-requisite of continuing his ministry.
It’s not a pre-requisite for our ministry either. We may not see results. Regardless, we are to trust God uses our efforts to change hearts, grow faith, and bring healing, often when those doing the initial work don’t see the impact of their ministry.
We can’t solve all the problems or meet all the needs. It doesn’t mean we should give up trying. We are to continue the work, move on from ridicule and rejection, and leave our baggage behind.
Finally, we are to trust that God is changing people, growing them in faith, and bringing them to Godself, even if we don’t see the results.