Do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet.
I started to draft a post on a different topic this morning, but then I went to the N.C. State Fair with my daughters…and that changed everything.
We’ve lived in North Carolina for six years now, and every year that I’ve been to the fair I’ve failed in my quest to experience the pig races…but not today!
I was completely captivated. Seriously. I did not know that such good, clean fun still existed anywhere on the planet, let alone as close by as the State Fairgrounds.
Dennis Cook and his “honey of 45 years” (adorned in a pig nose) travel from Newton, N.C., to bring their self-proclaimed redneck entertainment to the masses, which as it turns out includes five races of back-to-back excitement: the little pigs, the rookie pigs, goats, ducks, and last but not least, the potbelly pigs!
If ever there was a dubious light-bearer’s assignment it would have to be this one. Yet Mr. Cook sticks a metal cross with “Grace” spelled out across the center into hay bales in the middle of his race track. Then he blesses children in the stands by naming them honorary captains, complimenting each sweetly and sincerely as he makes his selections. Ray Price, the event sponsor, is raffling a Harley-Davidson, with all proceeds to benefit the state’s hurricane victims. But best of all, Cook and his wife use their unique brand of entertainment to spread pure, simple, unadulterated (but in short supply in this crazy world): JOY!
Outside of the pig races I discovered others answering the call to be salt and light in ways as varied and abundant as the Fair’s fried novelties. In the exhibits section a man sat in a tiny booth with leaflets about the Bible and salvation. I watched him smile as a woman picked one up and then handed it back to him. Someone else had placed cards, printed with the words “Eternal Life,” on the shelf above each of the bathroom stalls. And as we left the fairgrounds a man stood on a milk crate at a busy intersection, offering the good news over a tinny microphone to those weary from the best the state had to offer.
Not long ago I would have dismissed these folks as “crazies” and judged their efforts as futile at best and a degradation of the faith at worst. But today, perhaps in the afterglow of the Cooks and their pig races, I see it differently. Each of these people is obeying Jesus’ instruction in his own unique way:
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Whether anyone responds to their ministries is a work of the Holy Spirit; they have done their parts.
In the 1970s Rollen Stewart provided a similarly oddball form of witness. When he became a Christian he felt called to leverage the powerful medium of television to share the good news. He determined the best approach would be to show up at sporting events wearing a rainbow-colored wig and the words “John 3:16.”
He debuted at the 1977 NBA Finals and eventually became a fixture at a wide variety of high-profile events, strategically positioning himself to ensure camera coverage, much to the chagrin of broadcasters. Stewart appeared behind NFL goal posts, at the Augusta National Golf Club and near Olympic medal stands. In fact, he was detained by Moscow police at the 1980 Summer Olympics.
Stewart was a failed man in many regards, as we all are, but he played a key role in elevating John 3:16 to prime-time ubiquity.
Seeing Things Clearly
Before Jesus instructed his apostles not to throw pearls of truth “to swine,” he cautioned them about their own hearts, saying:
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (Matthew 7: 1-5)
Perhaps Jesus knew that we needed clear eyes in order to spot those heavenly gems wherever they may found, even in the least likely of places…like among pigs.