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I tell you an important truth; it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that city.


Here is my conclusion to the matter stated as clearly as I can state it: The punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah, with its fire, brimstone and complete and permanent destruction, will be less severe that the punishment that town will face at the final judgment [because they rejected a clear opportunity to get to know God personally].


First of all notice the home connection. They were to establish a base in a home worthy of spiritual activity. They were not to bounce around and look for better places. If the home had the qualities that a home should have, they were to stay there, that home was to be the base of their activity to reach the community. Having learned what they could by asking others, and having chosen a home for a possible base of operations, they were to bless it in the name of the Lord on entering. This was not unique, but it had significant meaning. The word peace for the Jews was a very big word. From their Old Testament roots they knew that peace meant wholeness and wellbeing. It was a very well-rounded concept, with spiritual and relational connotations. If they found the home to be a wholesome home, operating the way a home should operate, their blessing of God’s peace on that home should continue to be extended, desiring that family to experience even more peace and wholesomeness. However, it they discovered that the home was not operating the way God intended for a home to function, they could do nothing else but retract their blessing. God will not bless people that do not follow His way, or a home that does not follow His design!

That principle was to be put into practice with everyone they met. If people refused to follow God’s way even after it was made clear to them, the only thing the disciples could do was separate themselves from those people because judgment was sure to come and the disciples did not want to be too closely associated with people who were sure to be judged. Shaking the dust of one’s feet meant, “I have made the choice as clear to you as I can, you do not seem to desire to follow God, therefore I know you are going to reap God’s judgment, and I don’t want even the smallest, most insignificant part of your rebellion clinging to me when that judgment falls.” That is not just my interpretation of the act; look at Paul’s words when the Jews of Corinth refused to believe. He shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “your blood be on your own heads! I am free from [your] contamination!” (Acts 18:6) He shook off dust, not blood, but the point is that he did not want the smallest part of them to be attached to them because he knew their blood would be required of them in judgment.

We never, never see or hear this done today. We want to keep all the doors of opportunity open. We don’t want to turn anyone off to the church because we want to have the possibility of ministering to them later.

There are many ways in which our tendency to keep the possibilities open affect us. Many people have the attitude, “who are we to tell others they are wrong? It just seems so arrogant and over-powering to tell people that.” I am not suggesting that we shake the dust off our feet regarding small things, I am talking about the most basic and fundamental concepts of what salvation is. If they have received a clear presentation of the gospel and they refuse to follow it they are obviously bringing judgment on their own heads, we just don’t know when. Besides being careful about our own punishment or reward, we may communicate more to them by removing ourselves from them, than by coddling them and working with them “where they are at.” The church in America has been coddling people for many decades, probably centuries now, and in Europe even longer. Where has it gotten us?

The reality is that an institutionalized “church” cannot take the risk of getting a reputation as an institution that turns people away or is judgmental. However, a home-based church does not have much of an identity of its own so the emphasis will be on the reputation of the individuals involved. What the group does gain as a reputation will be that of a very generous group which is very close and loving, and is firmly set on following God’s truth. Think about the incident in Acts chapter 5. Ananias and Sapphira were killed by God through the leadership of Peter for not telling the truth. That will give you a reputation in the community, won’t it? But look at the result – “And great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard about these events (Acts 5:11).” The believers were sent a clear signal that they could not play games with God, and the unbelievers were sent a clear signal that if they wanted to join this group, they had better be serious about following what God said. Verses 13 and 14 state that, “none of the rest dared join them, yet the people esteemed them highly. But more, multitudes of both men and women, upon believing, were added [to their number].” People wanted in on what was going on, but they were afraid to get involved for the wrong reasons. They had to weigh their motivation carefully. The end result was that all this enhanced their reputation and preserved the purity of the group for a period of time. To be known for works of kindness and at the same time a firm commitment to truth and an unwillingness to play games with God – that is just the kind of reputation we should desire.

One of the things this means for the home-based church is the weekly group would not be able to meet in a home that is not striving to function God’s way even if it presents the best physical location for such a meeting. WOW. That cuts out quite a few homes in modern day America. But the only way to improve the situation is by holding God’s standards in high esteem.

The home-based group also presents a freedom that is not found in the institutionalized setting. Because the institutionalized congregation has budgets to meet, salaries to pay, and buildings to either pay off or maintain, losing members or attenders, or most likely givers, is a constant fear. A traditional pastor would not dare tell people who have been coming for a long time and who have always given money to the needs of the church that he, as a spiritual leader, wants nothing to do with them because they show no hunger for God, they appear to be playing religious games, and they are not following God’s designs. However, the home-based group has no such restraints. If it does not work out to meet in one home, then they will just find another. Or they can meet by the river as some Jews were doing in Acts 16. There is more freedom to be direct and focus on the real issues. In fact God wants His leaders to be bold and strong, and to be more concerned with keeping Him happy than keeping people happy.

Shaking the dust off one’s feet should be used not only for unbelievers who refuse to commit to God, but also for supposed believers who over time demonstrate that they are not serious about God but would rather play games with God. If someone is not thirsty for God and His word, how can we make them thirsty? Telling them louder and longer that they really need the fresh life-giving water of God’s word probably won’t help. We need to give them some salt. Salt in this case would be the harsh realization that someone (you or me in this case) thinks they are on the wrong track and are in danger of eternal damnation. There is much risk here because some people will react negatively to that and never want to see our faces again. But that seems to be the very risk that God takes on a regular basis when he allows hardships and suffering into our lives to either wake us up or to drive us away. Either way, God does not want us to remain neutral and in our state of neutrality think we are OK. He would rather risk losing us to anger than losing us to indifference! There are times that we need to take the same attitude with people.

Obviously, other characteristics of God are his love, compassion, mercy and grace. We need to demonstrate the same. Shaking the dust off our feet cannot be the only ministry tool in our tool belt. When a balance is sought and God’s love and His holy standard are upheld properly, we will be more like God than we have been in the past.

The parallel account in Luke has these words which do not appear in the Matthew account: “So stay in that same house, eating and drinking the things [given to you] by them, for the worker is worthy of his wages. Do not move from house to house (Lk 10:7).” From this I gather that this home that has been found should be that of a man who agrees with their mission, a man who is willing to share what he has with those coming to complete this spiritual mission. The disciples would never get rich doing this, but whenever they found a wholesome home that agreed with their mission they would at least have enough to eat. They were not to move about form house to house trying to find a better deal or trying to receive food from many people and thus multiply their benefits.

If they arrived in a town that did not accept them and their message, they were to include these words as they brushed the dust off their feet, “the Kingdom of God has come near to you” (Lk 10:9). Even in rebuking the people there was to be a clear statement that God gave opportunity yet for repentance. The act of shaking off the dust made it clear the responsibility now lies with the hearer to make a decision because the message has been clearly delivered, but God’s grace and mercy are still available to those who do decide to change course.

The Matthew account concludes this section with Jesus saying the following words: “therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” This matter of finding a healthy or peaceful home, and shaking the dusk off your feet if there is refusal to accept the message requires a delicate balance. Therefore, we need to be shrewd and also innocent at the same time.