A coworker approached me the other day and had, she said, a question about the Bible. “Where is the story about Jesus telling people to shake the dust off of their feet when they’re not accepted in a town?”
In my mind I immediately thought, I think that’s somewhere in Luke…
And before I could say anything my coworker continued, “I think Jesus was saying it to Paul.”
I cringed a little bit on the inside. I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t say anything to Paul, except for Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ. Before I had a chance to say anything she continued, “I want to say it’s in the Old Testament.”
Wow, I was really stumped with this one – was there even an appropriate way to respond?!
So I simply said, you know often when I’m looking for a reference like this I use google. I opened the browser on my computer, typed “Jesus shake dust off feet” into the search field and hit enter.
Sure enough, up popped Luke 9:1-5.
This exchange reminded me of one of my very first days as a student pastor at Whiting UMC. It was Vacation Bible School week and the director asked me to participate in a skit that helped tell the story of Jonah. During the skit we conversed back and forth about the story and she kept pushing me and pushing me for one more level of detail – “what did God want Jonah to go and tell the people?” I kept answering, God’s love, God’s forgiveness, the plans that God had for them… I could tell she was getting increasingly frustrated as I wasn’t giving the “right” answer. Finally she turned to the kids and their families and exclaimed, “God wanted Jonah to go and teach them about JESUS!”
Clearly there remains much work to be done when it comes to increasing biblical literacy in our churches…