10 August 2021

Pagan and proud.

Whenever I share Jesus with pagans—same as when I talk to anybody about any topic—I run into two types: The open-minded and the closed-minded.

The open-minded are fun. They’re curious. They have tons of questions. I may not get ’em to believe, or convince ’em to set foot in church, but that’s okay. There’s still lots of room for the Holy Spirit to work on them, because they’re open.

The closed-minded wanna tell me about Jesus, ’cause they’re entirely sure they already know it all. (They usually share some version of Historical Jesus, who sounds either like a nice guy but horribly misunderstood, or no fun at all. And either way, dead.) They suck all the fun out of the conversation, dismiss or mock anything we consider important, treat all our God-experiences as irrelevant or delusional, and don’t care how insulting and condescending they come across. Jesus compares them to swine, and you can see why this analogy is so popular.

Yeah, they’re depressing. Why do they get like that? Pride.

Like I said, they already know it all. They think they have God all figured out. Or at least they have God figured out better than we Christians do. Sometimes they grew up Christian, so they actually do know a few things. Sometimes they didn’t, but they heard about Historical Jesus from a friendly antichrist, so that’s what they believe now: They figure they know who Jesus really is, whereas we Christians just swallow all our religion’s myths whole, and believe whatever our pastors and priests tell us. They’re woke; we’re not.

And sometimes they didn’t just dabble in “facts” which confirm their biases, like an antivaxxer finding new favorite sites. They studied a bunch. They took a religion class. They visited churches and temples and mosques. They still read every religion book on the bestseller lists. They follow some guru, or a variety of gurus, who purports to tell ’em how religion really works. Sometimes they’re actually in a congregation or fellowship of some sort. More often I find they constructed their own religion; they have the corner on the truth, whereas Christians and everyone else are just sheeple. “I don’t believe in just one guy; every one of them is a little right and a little wrong. I make up my own mind.” Isn’t that clever of them.

After all their research, they figure they’re an authority on religion and Christianity. They’re the experts. They’re right and we’re wrong.

And if you’re one of those Christians who doesn’t realize we too are wrong, such closed-minded pagans are gonna be particularly distressing, ’cause your pride is gonna butt heads with their pride. I’ve been there. The discussions can get mighty ugly. Humility is always the way to go. But even when we are humble, or strive for it, the know-it-all pagan will still get mighty annoying. And too often pleased we find them annoying: Some of ’em wanna bug Christians. It’s evil fun for them.

How do we deal with ’em?

Jesus and pigdogs.

To certain Christians, every pagan is an opportunity to win another soul for Christ.

Which just goes to show they’ve been listening to their favorite evangelistic preachers instead of Jesus. Our Lord warns us not everybody’s gonna be open to the gospel. Sometimes we gotta shake off our feet at them. Mk 6.11 Not keep arguing with them, and tell ourselves we’re “planting seeds.” We’re not. Their hearts are hard.

Jesus called them pigdogs. Well, dogs and swine, but I like “pigdogs” for short.

Matthew 7.6 NASB
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

In his culture dogs and pigs are ritually unclean animals: You weren’t to eat them, and if you did, you weren’t to worship in temple, and Pharisees wouldn’t let you in synagogue. God never explained exactly why he forbade the Hebrews from eating dogs and pigs, but of course people will speculate it’s because they’re meant to be pets or work animals (like camels and horses, which are also ritually unclean), or because there’s something morally flawed about them. Dogs and pigs do tend to eat just about anything—including animals they find dead, and since touching a dead animal we find renders us ritually unclean, Lv 11.24, 39 maybe that’s why; you can’t trust a dog or pig to not have been snacking on some roadkill a few minutes ago.

Some humans have just as little sense. What we find nasty, they find valuable; what they find valuable, they don’t. Their priorities are askew, and they’re not at all receptive to correction. Try to share Jesus and his gospel with them, and they’ll stamp on our message. Then try stamping on us.

And that’s precisely what your typical know-it-all pagan does. Try telling ’em about Jesus, and they’ll try telling you about Jesus. “See, what you think he taught, he didn’t really. The writers of the bible made up that stuff to support their institutionalized church.” Oh what basis do they make this claim? Well, someone else said it, and it suits their biases, so they believe it. They don’t like church, don’t like Christianity, don’t like Jesus’s teachings, and therefore these things must not have anything to do with Jesus. But if they do like it, Jesus must’ve totally taught it. Basically they edit Jesus till he resembles them. Then, if they like their new creation enough, they’ll promote that version of Jesus… and in so doing, worship themselves.

Yeah it’s an imaginary creation, but they’re okay with that. They claim our version is imaginary too. (And when we never bother to study Jesus properly, and follow him as he really is… well, it’ll mean they’re not wrong.)

So what do we do with them? Shake the dust off our feet.

I know: Plenty of Christians hate that idea. I admit I don’t care for it either. I don’t like to give up on people. But it is what Jesus instructs us to do.

Mark 6.11 NASB
“Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet as a testimony against them.”

Christians hate this idea ’cause it feels to them like we’ve cursed them: “I tried to share Jesus with you, and since you won’t have him, you’re going to hell now.” As if we have the power to send them there. No we don’t. Shaking the dust off only means we’re done with them. The Holy Spirit may not be. He may use you to help nudge ’em to doubt their unbelief, but he works on ’em a lot more incessantly and naggingly than we ever could.

So stop fighting ’em, shake ’em off, and leave them for the Spirit to deal with. Go find some open-minded pagans to talk to instead. They’re a blast.