“Whatever city or village you go into, find somebody in it who is worthy and stay there until you go on your way. When you go into a house, say, ‘Peace!’”
I have been hearing wonderful stories of your “peace-sharing” adventures. Shy double-takes opening the way for conversation. Curious looks melted into smiles and hand-shakes. Hurts turned to hope. Peace is spreading. One peacemaker wore her pin up-side-down, “so I can see it for myself,” she said. The quirkiness invited questions and questions invited peace. I offered a pin to someone who said, “I’ve already gotten one from someone else, but I gave it away. Can I have another?” What experiences can you share?
For some of us, that first peace-offering was a bit strange. In our heads we may have been thinking, “What was it I was going to say? It seemed so easy in church on Sunday.” And in our hearts there’s always that question, “How will the person respond? What if…?”
What if? I can’t imagine anyone would really get angry, but what if they say no?
What if they say no? It wouldn’t be the first time. Jesus sent out his disciples to proclaim the good news, to heal and cast out demons and, yes, even raise the dead. He told them not to take anything with them, nothing by which to care for themselves. They were at the mercy of the hospitable people they would meet. Jesus tells them to offer peace to the house that welcomes them. But he also teaches them the proper response if someone refuses them, refuses their peace, refuses the good news.
“If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” (Matthew 10:13-14)
So, what if? What if we offer peace to someone and they say no? How should we respond? Like the disciples, we should allow the peace to return to us, to flow back to us. Not get annoyed. Not get angry. Not make judgements. Just be strengthened in our own peace.
I’m inclined to question the teaching in the next step though, “and shake the dust off your feet.” (and Jesus smiles and shakes his head at me, I know!). I don’t want to leave this person “in the dust.” I don’t want to abandon this person. And I sure as anything don’t want to make a statement that I’m rejecting them as worthless dirt. I want to help them find the peace of Christ!
But maybe, probably, I need to readjust my own thinking (again!). I can only offer the pins. I can only offer peace. I can only offer the message of good news. Then the Holy Spirit needs to work through and into that person to determine what’s going to grow. And maybe the time is just not right. Maybe the reason for the “no” is hurt that is deeper than I can reach. Maybe kicking the dust off is a reminder to myself that I need to leave behind any sense of rejection and instead carry away a deep compassion. A compassion that inspires prayer for the person who does not realize how much they are worth the peace that only Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace can bring.
Sticking to my story, praying for Peace… one pin at a time,