Dust and DNA

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Over the next few weeks, we are going to be discussing on Sunday mornings Mission Hills Christian Church’s core values or our family traits. In other words, we are asking the question: What is our DNA as Christians in the greater Los Angeles area in 2016?

There’s a collection of Rabbinic thought called the Mishnah. It began as an oral tradition around 200 BCE and was assembled later in the second century. Within the Mishnah, there is an interesting idea about what it means to live in the way of a rabbi. It reads, “Powder thyself in the dust of their feet; and drink their words with thirstiness.” In other words, let the dust of the feet of your Rabbi cover you as you follow, and sit in the dust at their feet while they teach.

You may often wonder why Jesus’ disciples such as James and John dropped their nets and lives as fishermen in the family business to follow a homeless vagabond rabbi. In the first century, it was an honor to have a rabbi ask you to follow him. Essentially by asking James and John to follow him, Jesus would have been saying to them, “I believe in you. I believe that you can be just like me.” We know through our study in Acts that the first Christians took upon themselves the teachings and way of life in Jesus, and this sect of Judaism became deemed “The Way” by many in the first century. The teachings of any rabbi were called that rabbi’s “yoke,” which was simply a symbol of your service and devotion to their particular way of life. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus characterizes his way of life, his teachings, his yoke. Jesus says, “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

Jesus’ yoke promises rest and relief for the down and out. Jesus’ yoke promises good news for the poor. Jesus’ yoke promises freedom for the prisoner. Jesus’ yoke promises justice for the oppressed. As wearers of this same yoke and name bearers of this way of life that we read about in the Scriptures, may we be reminded that we are covered in the dust of our Rabbi only when we live with radical love for people the poor, sick, and oppressed within our community.