“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.” (Matthew 7:6 NLT)
In 2006, Michael Sparks found a copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence for sale at a thrift store. In his mind, it looked like a decent reproduction, so it was well worth the $2.48 he spent on it. After a bit of research, Sparks soon found that it was indeed a copy, but not one that was made this century. It was one of two hundred official copies commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820, only thirty-six of which are still known to exist, including Sparks’s copy. When it sold at auction, it went for just shy of half a million dollars.
Nobody knows what path that document took to end up on the shelf at a thrift store, but it undoubtedly was the result of being undervalued by everyone who came across it. No one saw its true value. This is sometimes also the case with the Gospel. While Jesus commands us to share the Good News of the Kingdom of God to all peoples, how they respond is not up to us. In Luke 10, when Jesus sent the seventy-two disciples into the towns and places he planned to visit, he instructed them to wipe off of their sandals the dust from any town that refused to welcome them and to tell the people of that town that they had been abandoned to their fate. Though they are still told to share that the Kingdom of God is near, the disciples, once rejected, were to move on to the next town.
We have been tasked with sharing the Good News of God’s Kingdom, but we have not been instructed to beat anyone over their head with it. Some people will receive it, and others will reject it, and regardless of the outcome, their response is not due to the words we said or the way we said them; how they choose to respond is a result of the movement of the Spirit and the openness of their own heart. There is freedom in this reality. Though we still share in some of the responsibility through sharing the Gospel, the bulk of the work rests with God.