December 28, 2017
Before I get into this, how are you doing with your reflection, celebration, or thought on the Fourth Day of Christmas?
My journey through the Dallas Willard book, The Divine Conspiracy, continues. He has caused me to think in a whole new way of the well worn term “pearls before swine“.
Our use of this phrase he terms “condemnation engineering“, or “when good things become deadly“. He talks about the the frequent practice of pushing the things of God upon people whether they want or are ready for them. Or, that we push good things generally.
“Do not, Christ said, give dogs sacred things to eat, nor try to get pigs to dine on pearls. For they will simply walk all over them and turn and take a bite of you.
Dallas Willard says our normal use of this is directly opposed to what Jesus and his teachings were. After reading his point, I believe I agree.
We usually take it that some people are not worthy of the treasures that we have which God has given us and we have to watch for those unworthies. We tend to look down on them. They are pigs or dogs.
Does that fit the kind of person Jesus is? Could not the very incarnation of Christ coming to a dusty little place in the Holy Land, first received by castoffs of society, be a perceived case of pearls before pigs?
Dallas clarifies that the problem is not unworthiness, but unreadiness. His humorously stated point is that pigs cannot digest pearls. Dogs cannot digest Bibles. He states that as the reason is the animals will finally turn and rend you.
At least we are edible.
“What a picture this is of our efforts to correct and control others by pouring our good things – often truly precious things upon them – things that they nevertheless simply cannot ingest and use to nourish themselves. Often we do not even listen to them. We ‘know’ without listening.”
Have you observed this? What is the usual response over time? Isn’t it growing anger and rejection finally? This practice goes hand-in-hand with condemnation and Dallas states this is the number one cause of alienation between generations. I can agree.
This is worth extended consideration. Many Christians bemoan over and are puzzled by the fact that most children raised in the church leave when they leave home. I bet this has 80% to do with condemnation engineering.
We have wonderful intentions, but condemnation and actions meant to force change do not have the desired result. The child or friend is not really helped, and may end up attacking. It may not be vicious. It may simply be leaving.
It’s a conundrum, isn’t it? Our children and others “do not know what else to do with us pearl pushers”.
Part of the problem is our subtle superiority shown by how we give out rules. I have known of parents who will punish their kids by making them go to church services! Things that are precious and life-giving are used in such a way as to communicate they are harsh, negative, and punishment. This exacerbates the situation, by unintentionally agreeing with their kids that worship services are bad.
It’s like “Eat this pecan pie, slathered with gravy and peas, until you appreciate it.”
You leave a bad taste that lingers for a long time!
Here is an important point Dallas Willard makes: by forcing our “proper condemnations and wonderful solutions”, often we take the intended recipient out of their own responsibility and out of the hands of God and wrest them into our control.
Because, after all, we’ll be embarrassed or frustrated otherwise.
This was not the intent of Jesus.
We cannot harass people into righteousness.
We need to remember a superior or condemning attitude will never “help us help them”.
One more quote:
“These are qualities we must have to walk in the kingdom with others, instead of trying to drive them to change their ways and attitudes and even who they are.” (bold not in original)
When I am a pearl pusher, I become my child’s or friend’s problem, which obscures their own need for a change in their relationship to God.
They respond to me rather than Him.
I need to be such that they do not need to protect themselves from me.
Truth is real and exists. But it’s not intended as a ball bat for human heads.