An Exercise in Futility
But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. Acts 13:51
The leaves in west-central Minnesota have transformed over the last couple of weeks and the trees are now displaying their intense fall colors. It’s beautiful – as long as those leaves remain on the trees. The leaves carpeting my yard and the ones choking my driveway aren’t as pretty. Three times now, we’ve spent several hours raking, mulching, and bagging leaves. Each time, we’ve looked up at all the leaves still in the trees, realizing we’re far from done. Each time we’ve cleaned up, the yard looks great – for about an hour. The next day, it’s hard to tell that we’ve done anything. The leaves are just as thick as before. So far, it’s been an exercise in futility. Still, I’m not convinced we’re quite done banging our head against that proverbial wall.
Paul and Barnabas encountered a much more futile situation in today’s passage. In the story, the two preached the gospel in Antioch, and when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48). Paul and Barnabas shared the love of Christ and many followed him. That wasn’t the end of it though as the Jewish religious leaders stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district (Acts 13:50).
Realizing they’d done what they could and that they could do no more, Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet and moved on to somewhere where they could continue to preach the gospel. They could have stayed. They could have been imprisoned. Instead of wasting their time on those who didn’t want to listen though, they moved on to find those who did.
This is a lesson we need to be reminded of occasionally. It’s easy, when working with addicts, to want so badly for someone to find faith and recovery, that we persist when we need to let go. Our job is to be obedient, telling others of what Christ has done for us. If anyone wants to listen, great. If not, that’s their choice. If we find we’re banging our head against a wall, it may be time to move on. There are plenty of people in the world who desperately need to know of Christ’s love and forgiveness.