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January 23, 2017

Are you tired of living with pigs?

by Dave Malnes

I’m wondering if evangelists could use the following invitation to proclaim the gospel:

Are you tired of living with pigs?

When confronted with this question, a person may think:

“Is my house a mess? Do I have inconsiderate family members who have clothes lying around and dishes uncleaned?”

“Do I have messy relationships? Do I have people who have disappointed or hurt me? Am I tired of being lonely? Do I feel that people are taking advantage of me?”

“Are things at work a mess? Is my work more of a drudge – a way to make ends meet – than a joy? Am I accomplishing my dreams?”

Or perhaps a person has hit rock bottom physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But they just can’t bring themselves to admit it. They are too busy going through the motions and putting up a false front to neighbors, family members, friends, and co-workers.

Are you tired of living with pigs?

The younger son in the parable of the prodigal son finally came to this conclusion [Luke 15:11-32]. He had believed that the invitation to seek pleasures offered from the world would bring him happiness. By demanding his family’s inheritance, he became an instant Powerball winner. His dreams came true and he indulged himself in wild living. When the money dried up, his friends left him. Alone. Dirty. Disrespected. Unloved.

Wild living may not lead us to financial ruin, but bad decisions can leave us morally and spiritually bankrupt.

Messy relationships. Loneliness. Disappointment. Hurt. These are not adjectives that describe wild living, but can describe a far worse condition… isolation. It is here that remedies are found through distractions – and the world offers a multitude of them. The end result may not be living in a pig sty, but it can sure feel like it.

A spoiled inheritance offers no cause for hope, peace, or security. And that is the condition for all people who rejects God’s invitation to come home.

Evangelists share a message of grace from a loving father. He is rich beyond measure. His love knows no bounds. His grace is patient, enduring, and available.

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The word “prodigal” is often ascribed to the younger son. It is an adjective that can be defined as being “recklessly extravagant” or “having spent everything”.  Out of judgment, we easily point our fingers and apply this adjective to those who have made very poor decisions in life. They deserve what they get. But when we do that, we miss the point.

Perhaps the parable ought to be called the prodigal father. Grace and full forgiveness comes from a reckless, extravagant heart. Forgiveness comes at a great cost when it is extended to those who are undeserving and have nothing to offer in return. In Christ, God spent everything. He became flesh and lived a perfect life for the sole purpose to surrender, sacrifice, and substitute himself for us. He took on the full brunt of the law. He paid the penalty in full. He died and rose again so that we may have life.

A reckless love is patient. It risks being disappointed and hurt. Like the father, extravagant love stands by the road and waits for his children who have rejected him.

He extends sincere, heart-felt invitations to come home and be reconciled. No questions asked. No words of rebuke. All things will be made whole.

Believe my message. Come home.

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At Praise and Proclaim Ministries, we train Christians how to proclaim the gospel then immediately provide an opportunity to put their training into practice. We lead them into their surrounding neighborhoods to go door-to-door and proclaim the gospel. When they utilize our approach and methodology, the people we meet at the door are polite and typically provide a response that all is fine.

They are false fronts at the front-line of defense.

In my years of being an evangelist, I have learned to not believe the packaging. There are scores of people who are living with pigs. And I believe they are sick and tired of it. They are yearning for more. But since trust is such an important commodity, it’s hard for unbelievers to immediately respond well to grace. It seems impossible to believe. It seems impossible to come home.

When something seems too good to be true, our protective human nature rejects messages of grace and free forgiveness. We are drawn to pursing a course to be right with God believing that being pretty good ought to be good enough on that day of judgment.

A prerequisite for receiving a message of grace from God is to know that you need it. A sure hope, a divine peace, a certain confidence cannot come from ourselves, but must rest in something outside of ourselves. Faith places our trust squarely on Christ and what He has already done for us.

“Are you tired of living with pigs?”

Circumstances can drive a person to consider a gospel message, but only the power of the gospel message can work in the hearts and minds of unbelievers and create faith.

Evangelists have the privilege and responsibility to be used by God to proclaim this powerful, reckless, extravagant message of God’s grace.

Believe God’s message.  All is forgiven. Come home.

 

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