"And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feel" (Matthew 10:12-14).
Knowing how Israel rejected and persecuted Him, Jesus anticipated and prepared His disciples for the same treatment. The statement "shake off the dust of your feet" means to separate yourself from those people who refuse to hear the Gospel of Christ and who may lave lost the only opportunity to receive Him as their Lord and Savior. As an example, when Paul and Barnabas preached to Israel at Antioch, Paul told the that Jesus really was the One promised, and that if they would believe on Him, they would have eternal salvation. There were Gentiles present, and on the following day at their request, Paul returned to the synagogue to teach them as well. When Israel saw how great the crowd was, they because envious and began to speak out against Paul and Barnabas. But they boldly responded that "it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles" (Acts 13:46). While the Gentiles were glad to have received the Gospel, Israel came all the more against their preaching and teaching, and Pal and Barnabas "shook off the dust from their feet against them" (Acts 13:52).
To salute or greet someone's house during that time was to say Shalom, meaning "Peace unto this house." Those considered worthy of such a greeting responded positively in "faith to the disciples preachings and actions" because they were coming in "as peacemakers...of God's merciful empire"...to bring the good news of "wholeness and well-being to the broken and oppressed (see v. 5:9; Ps. 72). To greet in such a way is to proclaim God's empire...and those who are worthy receive benefit form and commit to god's peace or reign" (Carter, p. 235). As Hauerwas wrote, "The kingdom unleashed by Jesus is the kingdom of hospitality. To reject Him and those who represent Him is to call down judgment on ourselves" (p. 107).
As we go forth into our individual ministries, we must bear this in mind. We will not always be welcomed at the different churches we go into. As Jesus stated, however, we too are to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves as we "challenge the worldly powers with the weapons of the Spirit" (Hauerwas, pp. 107-8).