How Much Do You Love Your Pigs?

“It’s the economy, stupid.” Right? I mean, we know this phrase from every political campaign since Clinton ran against Bush in ’92. His campaign manager, James Carville, posted it in the office to remind Clinton to stay on topic and that the economy is what people cared about – jobs, money, the economy, stupid.

Our hearts can be located right behind our wallets.

So, I’m wondering how I’ve read the gospels sooooo many times and missed just how offensive Jesus’ actions were to the economy of the times in which He walked the earth. This week, it’s leaping off the page at me.

In Luke 7, Jesus is an honored dinner guest at the home of a Pharisee (a Jewish VIP) when a woman of ill repute enters the man’s home, washes His feet with her tears and then pours out an expensive jar of perfume to anoint them. Knowing the Pharisee is appalled at the very presence of the woman, Jesus tells him a story about forgiveness and then forgives the woman for her sins. For free.

I’ve always missed this part.

See, in the economy of Israel of that day, sins were not forgiven for free. Sins could only be forgiven after an animal sacrifice was made on behalf of the sinner – blood had to be shed and that meant an animal had to be purchased or given up from one’s personal inventory of livestock. Forgiveness of sins was integral to the economy of the day and Jesus just starts offering forgiveness for free.

No wonder the men in charge took notice.

Then, in chapter 8, Luke tells about Jesus healing a man possessed by demons. The man had been driven to live alone among the tombs but Jesus’ delivers him from his living torment and orders the demons into a herd of pigs. The demons drive the herd of pigs off a cliff and the pigs drown.

This did not make Jesus a hero with the owner of the pigs.

A man stands before the townspeople completely healed, restored to his right mind, no longer a threat to himself or others but there is no rejoicing. Jesus has upset their economy, stupid! What if He starts freeing more people and sending demons into more herds? The people of the town ask Jesus to leave.

Get out! That deliverance trick was very impressive but we don’t want any more of that here, thanks. We miss our pigs.

The freed man begs to leave town with Jesus. I can’t blame him. Would you want to stay with a bunch of people who look at you, completely healed, and just wish they had their pigs back?

The headline in Rhode Island today is that the ACLU is demanding on behalf of one citizen that a mural be removed from a Cranston High School. The mural has been on the wall for fifty-one years and encourages honesty, good conduct, character growth and friendship but it is a prayer addressed to “Our Heavenly Father” and ending with “Amen” so the ACLU says it must go.

I heard a member of the school committee defend the mural, support the words of the mural and the spirit of the mural but he also stated that it will probably have to go because as foolish as it is to back down and cave in to the complaint of one citizen in fifty-one years, it will cost the town too much money to defend in court the majority who want the mural to stay.

How we love our pigs.

More than deliverance. More than health. More than freedom. More than our right to free speech. More than the practice of our faith in public.

It’s the economy, stupid.

Time we take a lesson from Jesus and opt out of the world’s economy – spit right in its face. Later in Luke 12, Jesus says this: “29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

God’s economy is the only one where investments now will yield lasting dividends.

How much do you love your pigs?

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    The Conversation

  1. Felicia says:

    I can remember when I first read about the pigs thinking, poor pigs – what did they ever do to anyone? And wondering why Jesus would send the demons into the pigs. Later when I learned a little more about the Old Testament law I wondered – what were these good Jewish farmers doing with pigs in the first place? When we grasp onto something that God has said we should avoid, He sometimes has to send it to the bottom of the ocean for us to get the picture. 🙂

  2. Loved this post. Very thought provoking, I never had quite thought of the economy in times of scriptures. Thanks for another great post!

  3. Karin says:

    Ditto Felicia’s comments!! Thanks for another great post. You do just have a way with words and phrases and applications!

  4. Love this! Very timely and a fabulous reminder of the importance of a heavenly economy and heavenly priorities.

    Matt (my husband) and I were talking about a similar issue when a recent election day rolled around. The economy seems to control so much, but we are to be a counter-culture. Unmoved by what we see. I’ll be spitting in the economy’s face with you, lady. Great message.

  5. Thank you all for dropping by and taking time to comment. I feel very challenged in this area – challenged to live counter-culturally even – maybe especially – when it comes to choosing between the kingdom of God and material security. May God lead us all with clarity and strength of purpose.

  6. Brenda Gale says:

    Very thought provoking post. I somehow missed that sins were not forgiven for free in Old Testament times. No wonder Jesus was so hated. He was upsetting their whole economic platform! As I understand it the Pharisees were well to do and had a cushy lifestyle.

    Bless you!