Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy as a Pig in Slop

The thing about precious stones and metals is that they are buried deep within rocky places. Miles beneath the dirt, where most people go about their days, lay treasures untold. The same is true of eternal treasures. Sometimes you need to look beneath the surface of things to search out the treasure underneath.

There is a verse in the gospel of Matthew that has always been difficult for me to figure out. "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." At surface value, it makes sense in that if you argue with a fool, you are wasting your time. The fool will not listen and you will only get frustrated and look stupid doing it. I agree with this and it makes both good theological sense as well as logical sense. The setting for this verse, however, makes no sense at all.

Jesus has been riffing on selflessness. Telling his followers to no longer worry about their earthly life. Not to hold onto their rights (legal, social, emotional) instead to sacrifice self in showing love to others. Even to individuals that would steal our last piece of clothing, and insult us to our very core. To those individuals we should not hold back from. If there is anyone who deserves to be labeled a pig or a dog, it is certainly someone who has such malicious intent.

Jesus doesn't even allow us the self-righteous pleasure of judging that person for the evil they perpetrated on us. "Judge not, lest you be judged." We are not allowed to withhold grace and mercy from the nefarious characters described above. It is immediately following this instruction that Jesus warns us against giving what is holy to dogs, or throwing away our pearls to pigs. This would seem to be a caution flag saying "hey, be nice to people and I do mean every body. unless they're jerks." what exactly do you do with that?

Because my selfish heart, quickly runs and seeks out every opportunity to escape from having to be truly selfless. If this is what this verse means "Don't waste your time on people that aren't going to appreciate what you do for them." then, I've seen my share of pigs and dogs and the number of people I need to be nice to, just shrunk incredibly. like, exponentially

What I am wrestling with is maybe this verse is not a modifier or an exception to the previous verses but instead an explanation for why you should not pick up the weapons of hatred and judgement. In judging others, we step away from the new covenant of grace and ask for the law to reign in this world. We desire not for God's mercy to be shown in someone's life, but want them to suffer God's wrath. Not to bring about their repentance, but for retribution or punishment and maybe just to make ourselves feel better.

In doing this, are we not "scooping hot coals into our laps" that will have little effect on the object of our hatred but proceed to burn ourselves? I believe when we judge others, we are throwing aside the beautiful treasure we have of God's grace and mercy and we do this for the sake of people we consider pigs and dogs. As C.S. Lewis said "we drink poison hoping that another person will fall ill."

In the previous chapter, Jesus taught us to pray "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us". How can we enjoy the forgiveness of our sins and hope for others to suffer judgement instead? You cannot serve two masters, you will hate one and love the other.

Those people that you hate, the people that have wronged you, are they worth throwing away your holiness and your treasure? Is your right to vengeance or moral superiority more important than living in the freedom and forgiveness of Jesus?

Jesus continues to put convention on it's ear and tells us that if you are afraid of the evil people out there stealing everything from you, then you should love them. Afford them the same grace and mercy you have received. In doing so, you will ensure that you will not cast off our righteousness, instead, you will uncover an even greater treasure stored for you where thieves cannot break in and steal and moth and rust cannot destroy.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Love that you're posting stuff like this Jason. Love even more that you're our discipleship guy. Perfect fit.