Pearls before swine!

Mat 7:6 “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. (ESVST)

What is that all about?  Let’s take a little walk, shall we?

Years ago I was on a test flight in a Super Hornet (F/A-18E), where we were trying to determine the minimum airspeed required to launch off the aircraft carrier with only one engine. Of course taking off with only one engine operating, on purpose, is nonsense, but sometimes engines fail while you are taking off. These are jet engines so birds can destroy a motor or a catastrophic oil leak can cause the engine to seize…stuff like that. On this flight, I found the minimum speed and more than I expected. For a bunch of reasons, that could have been avoided in hindsight, I was below the minimum speed when I “simulated an engine failure.”  That just means you set one engine’s power to idle and the other to max afterburner and try to keep the beast wings level with all that asymmetric thrust. OK, I probably just lost some of you but what happened next was terrifying. The aircraft flipped upside down 2000 feet above the Chesapeake Bay. I should have ejected, but wasn’t sure if I could have ejected (looking at water “above” me).  So I stayed with it, rolled upright, worked my best pilot stuff and just missed the water by 150 ft. I was shaky and rattled.  The aircraft had departed controlled flight because of excessive yaw. I was not in control for an eternal moment and the aircraft was not doing what I wanted it to do. More than that, the aircraft was doing stuff I didn’t expect it to do. Still, at the decision point, I had choices. I could eject or stay. I could bail out or fly. I was out of control of the aircraft, but not of the situation. I had options.

Years later I had another out of control experience. (You can read my story on the about tab for more details.) When I got pulled over and arrested for a DUI, my precisely controlled carrier was spiraling out of control and into the toilet, but I still had options. I could stay in the Navy or get out. My flight status was removed for a period of time, but I still had options.  After demonstrating I could be trusted, I would be flying again. I lost my driving privileges on the base, but I had options for transportation called a bicycle. Still, there was one thing that I couldn’t control…my commanding officer…no options.

I had a NASA application in the review process. Everything about me and my career and my life was centered around being an astronaut (notice the excessive use of “me?”). Being an astronaut was more than my dream, it was my everything. I had no visions of a future outside living in Houston and flying the Space Shuttle. It was an obsession. It was my sense of control. It was my certainty. It was in the fabric of my DNA. I was going to fly in space…period. Then the DUI.  My commanding officer pulled my package. He called NASA and told them to send it back. I was crushed. No, way more than that, I was near postal! I could have strangled that guy (but I didn’t for those who feel the need to call police). I was furious and outside myself. All I wanted was for him to “let it ride” and let me “take my chances” with the selection board. He wouldn’t let it happen. I was completely and utterly and absolutely out of control. I had no options, none, zero. “Goodbye NASA” and dreams and plans and everything (for me at the time).  It was like I had died to everything I thought was important.

In case your worried about my current mental stability, it’s OK.  In a very real sense, I had to die to live. I had to crash to fly. But now, in His freedom, I soar like eagles and don’t need a pressure suit.

OK, back to dogs and pigs and holy pearls…

Just before Jesus makes this statement about hand biting and pig slop, he said this (and more about logs and eyes and sawdust that you should check out on your own):

Mat 7:1 “ Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  (ESVST)

So, instead of presenting an eloquent soliloquy, I’ll get right to it. This was their NASA moment. This was Jesus jerking the rug out from under them. When we come to grips with the magnitude of what Jesus is saying, we have an out of control moment. “Don’t judge?”,  “Are you kidding me?”  Our sense of control and the fabric of our limited universe is bound up in judging. It is the fallen fruit paradigm. It is our good-bad in full afterburner. We are all about lists and conditions, and carrots and sticks, and rules and filters and on and on and on. These people wanted Him to judge so He could destroy the Romans and restore their majesty. They wanted a God-judge to “set things right.”  They were likely furious and ready for a lynching or so shocked they didn’t know what to do. Don’t judge them…we are the same way.

When we live like fallen humans, we build religions and denominations and creeds and manifestos and traditions and dogmas and doctrines to make judging the center of our lives. We exclude anyone who is not like us. We reject everyone who doesn’t believe what we believe. We do all of that plus crusades and genocide and gas chambers and so much more in the frame of judgment. We have done all of that IN THE NAME OF GOD!

What have we done?  Who do we think we are, really?

Entire cultures and communities and livelihoods are built on judgment. Pastors get paychecks. Clergy get domiciles. Priests get monasteries.  How many have left judgment behind?  How many are universally inclusive like Jesus?

I think I’ve made my point and have likely over-generalized and cast a huge net of my own judgment. See how easy it is?  Now back to the story. Can you see what Jesus is doing? He is finishing up the “Sermon on the mount” and has re-interpreted the Law of Moses. He has made bold statements about the Kingdom of Heaven being divine happiness in meekness and spiritual poverty and other paradigm busting metaphors. He has turned anger into murder and adultery into hell. Jesus is on a roll. Now the pinnacle of His message…Do not judge!

Later, Jesus says He did not come to judge, and He is God. He didn’t come to condemn or reject or exclude, but save. He didn’t come to kill and destroy, but restore. He doesn’t bring shame, but salvation. He doesn’t hurt, but heal. He draws every single human ever created to Himself on a cross, that is the ultimate act of surrender, humility and non-judgment. He forgives while we kill Him.  His wrath is to die.  His judgment is to be raised from the dead and love us instead of wiping us out.  He lives and dies and is resurrected as what He teaches. He is holy, because there is none that loves like Him. He is the pearl of great price because He is the culmination and vicarious representation of God’s eternal plan…children. He is the God-man. He is the pearl formed from the sand of the Earth and divine embrace of God. And we are in Him and He is in us.

Ok, we are almost there. Please hang on for a moment. Jesus references Psalm 22 on the cross. Here is the beginning middle and end:

Psa 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?… 24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him…31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it. (ESVST)

Yay!  What a picture. Now maybe you didn’t know it but here are a few more verses from the same Psalm (the one Psalm that Jesus thinks is important enough to declare in His final moments on the cross):

Psa 22:16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet — 17 I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. (ESV)

So what is the point of all this discussion?  I believe Jesus is inserting a prophetic commentary at the end of His rug-pulling session. He IS NOT reversing His position and undoing all He has just done. He is telling them (and us) that we are the dogs and the pigs. We will react to the declaration of inclusion and acceptance and assurance and non-judgment with either violence or apathy. When we are presented with the nature of God to forgive and love unconditionally, we spiral out of control because WE DEMAND a God who must punish and make right the wrongs against us. We need a fierce fire-breathing dragon of a g.o.d. to kill and destroy and consume our adversaries. Jesus says that ain’t the way we play this game. We get mad and want to take our ball and go elsewhere. We throw a tantrum and kill GOD on a cross.

The apathy response (trampling this pearl) is no better. To dismiss this pearl of beauty is tragic. To live free of judging is to be restored to our original created intent. To be free from fallen-fruit is to be free indeed. To love unconditionally is to be truly human. To accept and include and cherish and restore is our God-given, divine new nature in union with Jesus as a new creation.

I know it is hard to “let it go Indy.”  We need to hold onto our holy grail.  We need to hold onto our traditions and our expectations.  We need to be in control of our own destiny, don’t we?  Even the “sinners prayer” is a way of maintaining control, isn’t it?  Even our dogmas and doctrines are a way of exerting “control” over others, don’t you think?  I’m sorry to say, but I believe Jesus backs me up on this one…we have to die.  We have to spiral in a free fall and just give in to trusting Him completely.  We have to let go of our false sense of control and learn His embrace.  We have to give up our desperate need for judgment and just die to our Adamic nature to judge.  We get to live in Jesus, free from His judgment and ours.  That is scary, I know.  That can be intimidating for sure, but I guarantee you will be transformed and set free when you let go and give in.

Oh yeah you should know that when you bring the good news of our inclusion and no judgment to others…don’t be surprised when you see some bared teeth or get trampled by some cloven hooves.

Yay God!


One thought on “Pearls before swine!

  1. Ok. Super good. This is where I want to live! Jesus help me. I started to cry when I read the beginning, middle, and end of Ps. 22. I heard a person say recently, in response to being told that God even left Jesus on the cross (turned his back on sin), that what was actually happening was Jesus was even stepping into that dark place where all of us have cried ‘Why God??!!’…and was redeeming even that. Oh …maybe you said that Lance. haha. Anyway, seeing Ps 22 with the beginning, middle, and end like that gives a true picture, don’t you think?


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