Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pigs and Pearls


Yesterday I shared about how we should share the Gospel message, today I am taking us back into the Sermon the the Mount to discuss to whom we are to share the Gospel with.  The short answer is that everyone should have an opportunity to hear the Gospel, but after that it is not quite so simple.  Here is today's text.
Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.  Matthew 7:6 NKJV
In order to understand what Jesus is saying, we need to understand the imagery Jesus is using.  First of all, things that are holy are things set apart or having to do with God.  As for dogs, Jesus is not talking about our beloved family pets. He is referring to the ravenous pack animals that roamed and scavenged the land.  These dogs would be more like wolves than Spot or Rover.  Jesus is referring to the Word of God and the things God is doing in your life.  Swine is a symbol of something unclean.  In other words, Jesus is telling us to be discerning in who we share the things of God with. 

One thing we need to make clear is that Jesus is not telling us to discern to whom we share the Gospel. Everyone should hear the Gospel.  If this injunction was taken to that extreme, none of us would have heard the Gospel.  I say that because who of us was not unclean before God before we came to Jesus?  Who of us was not running with the world living for ourselves and our own satisfaction like part of a pack of dogs before Christ?  The answer is that we all were.  The difference is that we saw who we were and hated it and invited Jesus to come into our lives. 

So one must ask then just who Jesus is talking about.  Peter shines some light on who I think Jesus is referring to.
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."  2 Peter 2:20-22 NKJV
I do not believe Jesus is speaking of those who do not know the Gospel, but those who know it and who have either walked away or rejected it.  We all know people like this.  They have have had some signs of growth in their lives and then for whatever reason walked away and live in all-out rebellion to the Lord.  Then again sometimes they reject the Word out of hand and never show anything but disdain for the things of God.  Usually, they are worse that anyone who has never even known the Gospel.  They tend to be angry, bitter, rebellious, and talk rather hatefully towards someone they claim they do not believe even exists.  They often try to lure others away from the truth, spewing their lies and some even fall for their lies. 

The reason why we do not cast our pearls to them is because, for one, it is pointless.  They reject the Word of God.  They reject God.  Many reject the idea of any god.  What is the point of sharing the things of God with someone who either rejects Him or does not believe in Him?  But, in our pride (and I have been guilty of this myself), we have the idea of arguing someone into accepting God.  All we end up doing is getting ourselves frustrated and putting the things of God into a position to be scorned and mocked.  Just as Jesus said "they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." 

And in that, we fail.  We fail because we frustrate the work God may by not following the example of God's word.  We would rather try to argue an atheist into accepting that not only a god exists, but it is the God of the Bible.  You will not win that argument because that atheist rejects the very Word of God you are trying to reach him or her with.  In fact, many know the Bible even better than you do.  Did Jesus chase after the rich man who went away sad not wanting to give up his money and try to reason with him the benefits of following Him?  No, he let him walk away.  Did Jesus instruct the apostles to stay in a city preaching to the same people over and over again until all receive the Lord?  No, He said that if they did not receive, we are to wipe the dust off our feet as a testimony to them and move along.  Did Paul send missionaries after Demas after he walked away?  No, there is no evidence that Paul sent anyone after Demas.  The fact is you can not argue someone into acceptance.  It is not our logic that will win someone for Christ.  It is not our ability to counterpoint all their points against God in some kind of debate that will win someone.  What will win someone is the Holy Spirit and until they reject His conviction, nothing we do can make them be saved.  Nothing we say or do can turn them to the truth they reject.  Doing so only frustrates what plan God may have to water seeds planted in their hearts.  Doing so only keeps you from preaching to those who will receive it.  Doing so only serves to offer God up to mockery. 

And so while we are to preach the Gospel to everyone, we are to not waste our time trying to force it down the throats of those who reject it.  Sharing the things of God to those who reject God will only serve to open you and God's Word and work up to mockery. Do not be looking for special projects or spiritual notches on your belt as those are constructs of your own pride.  It is not us who saves anyone, we only spread the seeds of the Gospel.  It is the Holy Spirit who convicts the heart unto salvation and it is only God who can cause those seeds to grow.  Let the atheists and scoffers be, God will deal with them in His time and in His way.  He certainly does not need our help.  Let's not try to force feed the Gospel to those who will just spit it back up in our faces when millions perish daily in their spiritual starvation. 
And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!  Matthew 10:14-15 NKJV

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