Most of us have jobs or take vacations that allow us to visit areas of our nation that we may have never been to before. During our visits, we form an impression, whether good or bad.
If good, we generally decide to return sometime again. On the other hand, if our impression is bad, we try not to go back.
Jesus instructed His disciples to travel also. And His attitude was quite “in your face” for those homes who gave His disciples a bad impression (those who rejected His Gospel):
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.
12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. – Matthew 10:5-15 (NIV)
I have read of some people using this verse as a means to “detest” the lost. Some may claim that once you tell a lost person about Christ, if they don’t repent, then you are to stray from them, and “shake the dust from your feet” and never return.
While I believe what Jesus told His disciples, He did NOT instruct us to do the same! Remember, He sent His disciples out with not “just a message,” but with ACTION! He sent His disciples to “heal the sick, raise the dead,“ cleanse lepers, drive demons out, etc. If a lost person is not convinced by the message of the Gospel, backed up by divine miracles, then I don’t really think they’ll ever listen. Do you?
Jesus taught us to love one another (every one), including sinners. We are not to love their sin, but to love them. I also believe that the reason Jesus gave the disciples such an instruction is so that they wouldn’t “give in” and become like the lost (as non-followers).
You see, when we hang around people, we naturally start following them in certain ways (whether consciously or unconsciously). We may speak the way they speak (I’m definitely guilty of “that there one”). Or we may participate in secular activities that they do (as in rowdy college football parties/games, ooh anyone guilty here? Just kidding!)
But, if we spend too much time with lost people, chances are that they will influence us at least as much as we influence them.
The Bible doesn’t say “don’t have fun,” but Jesus was clear that we shouldn’t take “advantage” of unbelievers, in the sense of using their resources to live by. Jesus commanded us to go the lost. He commanded us to tell others, and to love everyone.