By Shery Abdelmalak
“And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them” [Luke 9:5] | Shake the Dust Off Your Feet
In service I can give my all to another person and still be rejected. I read this, and it gives me comfort that I can shake the dust from my feet and serve another, the harvest is plenty and the labourers are few, right? But this would be a very superficial way of reading the words of our Savior.
The ones most difficult to love are the ones most in need of Love. It is in our human nature to want to help others, it makes us feel good. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a little part of me that became happy when I did good for someone else.
Alas, we give glory to God, as well. When it is not given to God entirely, pain eventually ensues; the pain of attributing goodness to me and not to Him. If it was Him that did it all and I knew my place as the vessel, there would no need to react to service failed and service succeeded.
It is in failure, where I truly see that I need God to come back, because I can’t handle the feeling of failure on my own. There is a small voice that brings me back down to earth. It was never meant to be about me. If He allowed for the service in His Name to fail, then it shows His immense compassion upon the vessel that forget its place.
If I am not full of His love, then I must be full of something else. There is goodness, there is good intentions, but if I am not constantly filling and refilling my vessel with His Love than it is failure that brings me back to Him. The service may be equally successful, but when it is centered on His Love, than my heart is content through it all.
“You cannot serve unless you are first happy.” H.G. Bishop Agathon once gave me this mind-blowing realization | Shake the Dust Off Your Feet
H.G. Bishop Agathon once gave me the mind-blowing realization that you cannot serve unless you are first happy. Happiness is the greatest thing you can offer another. I will admit, I was initially sceptical to this motion, for it was service that made me happy. But anyone that helps another will be happy. Christ said so, too. “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” – Luke 6:32.
It is natural as humans to love those who love us, to serve those who serve us, but there is a special kind of person who recognizes themselves as the clay in the Hands of the Potter, as the vessel, and not the source, of light. To them, Christ is their source of happiness. Internally, they fill and refill and do not lose sight of the One who is the Light. To them, love and service know no bounds, for the One fueling their service has no limits.
Love that knows no limits becomes apparent when the logic of this world does not cloud our thoughts from His Light. As Christ said, “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” – Luke 6:35-36.
When I think of loving my enemies, I think of pain, I think of anguish, but then I also think of the Cross, and the pain that Christ endured for my sake. He suffered and showed the height of love, so that I wouldn’t have to carry that pain on my own. When I think of service- when I think of ANY relationship that did not first start with the love of Christ, I know I am setting myself up on a path that will eventually cause pain.
“Lucky for you and I, He sits by our sides through it all and will fulfil every need that we first acknowledge, the rest becomes His problem, and that is the greatest comfort of all.” Shery Abdelmalak | Shake the Dust Off Your Feet
It doesn’t have to be this way, especially if my intentions are for His sake. It just needs to start with Him. As St Paul said, “I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” – 2 Cor. 12:9. I am thankful for the failures, for it is the failures that reveal the sufficiency of Christ through me, when I don’t feel like I do it alone.
I struggle, I fail, and I want to give up on it all, knowing that Christ said to shake the dust off my feet to the one who does not receive me. That was never what He meant. St Ambrosius contemplates on this verse likening the dust to the setbacks that arise for the one that shepherds others to Christ.
There will always be setbacks, but this does not deter the servant from the child of Christ, but beckons the servant of the Lord to find other means of reaching the lost. He further says, “It is the duty of him who preaches the gospel to take upon himself the physical weakness of the believers, and he has to carry them for away, and crush them under his feet. These are idle deeds that are similar to the dust.”
There are no easy ways out of this one, but service comes all the more naturally to the one that is immersed in Christ. The flock of the children of Christ is diverse, and I cannot even begin to cater for their needs without the intricacy and the detail that only their Creator will know. Lucky for you and I, He sits by our sides through it all and will fulfil every need that we first acknowledge, the rest becomes His problem, and that is the greatest comfort of all.
Delivered to you by COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network on 2021-02-04 from Sydney, Australia.
Columnists: COPTICNN™ award-winning columnists are a fundamental pillar of our coverage. They range in their interests from orthodoxy, faith, politics, to world affairs, to business, to the arts, to the way we live. No matter the issue, they are always in the middle of our Christian discourse. They are trusted by our readers and followed by many Coptic Orthodox Christians worldwide. Influential, provocative, and engaging, our columnists provide insights and analysis that can’t be found elsewhere, making them a prime destination for WORLD readers.