I was reading Matthew chapters 8 & 9 today in my daily quiet time....and was struck by three sections that don't really seem to connect with each other, and yet they do.
In Matthew 8:28 - 34 we read of Jesus driving out the demons from two demon posessed men. He then sends the demons into a herd of pigs and it drives the pigs crazy and they run down the steep hill, like jumping off of a cliff, into the water and they drown.
Now here is the part I want you to read for yourself: "Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region."
They were told EVERYTHING, including what had happened to the demon posessed men. Were they happy about that? Did they check out these men to see how they were? Nope. Not a word about how they were healed...nada...zip...a big fat zero.
What did they care about? Their pigs. They were upset that Jesus had wrecked their way of making a living...they didn't care about the men that were changed and in their right mind...they wanted their pigs back and they wanted Jesus to leave, and to leave quickly, they were begging him to go.
Now jump to Matthew chapter 9 and we read where Jesus had healed two blind men and drove a demon out of a man that had caused the man to be unable to talk. The reaction was a little bit different there, the people said in verse 33, "...Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel."
And now if you will kindly jump just a few verses ahead, Jesus is talking to his disciples about the need for people to go out and take the healing message of the gospel to the world. In chapter 9, verses 37 & 38 Jesus says, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
Now let me pull these three seemingly unrelated passges of scripture together.
First, the pigs. You see I realzied I had been guilty of sometimes preferring the pigs to Jesus. I like my stuff, my time to do as I please. I don't always like the idea of having to give stuff up in order to serve Jesus, in order to share my faith so that someones life might be changed for eternity. I have stuff to do, I have stuff to enjoy, I have stuff to watch, I have stuff to take care of.
No I don't. When my stuff, my pigs come before Jesus and my love for the lost, then my stuff has me. This is wrong. This is sin.
What would happen if I would get rid of the suff/pigs in my life? Maybe someone would start saying about my walk with Christ, "Wow...we've never seen anyone like that around here?" But that is too limiting, and too easy for me to fall into the sin of pride, so better yet, what if I put the lost before my stuff/pigs (I think from here on out I'm just going to refer to them as my "stuffed pigs"), maybe people would begin to say about my church and my community, "Wow....nothing like this has ever happened here before".
I'm just foolish enough to believe that something like that could happen. I believe it could happen because according to what Jesus said in the last scriptures I read, the problem isn't that we are lacking in people that are ready to hear and respond to the life changing power of the gospel....the problem is that there aren't enough people to take the gospel to them. In fact, according to what Jesus said, the people are ripe for the harvest...they are right there...on the edge of chosing Christ.
Maybe there isn't enough people to take the gospel to them, not because of a lack of people, but a lack of willing people. A lack of people willing to get rid of the stuffed pigs in their life and to live a radical life for Christ that causes people to respond to the gospel in a way that whole communities are impacted.
Please don't misunderstand me here. I'm not pointing any fingers at anyone except myself. I know what distracts me. I know what sin easily trips me up. I know just what stuff I covet. You will have to look at your own life, your own stuff, your own heart.
But for me, I think it's time to throw some stuffed pigs off the cliff and drown them.
Ok, so there's that.