Bulldozer—now there’s a fun word! I did a little digging (pun intended), and evidently bulldozer is a very American term, no surprise that. Its origin is summarily inelegant, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the helpful heavy machinery we count on today.
Not long after the American Civil War and Honest Abe’s Emancipation Proclamation, racial prejudice continued (duh) in the form of intimidation tactics, which included administering a “bull’s dose” with a whip on the backs of black Americans who would not vote for a certain party. The thugs eventually were referred to as “bull dosers” or “bull dozers”, those who cleared a path for their own ideology. (1)
Over time, it seems the term became used for an evolving piece of equipment to move heavy or otherwise unmovable objects out of the way. And if you’ve ever gotten in the way of a bulldozer, it’s certainly intimidating!
At the same time, the machine is only as destructive or as beneficial as the person who is sitting at the controls.
“As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, ‘This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.’”
A popular belief circulates that you cannot argue people into the Kingdom of God. I agree. There is a definite Holy Spirit component involved. However, there is also an important element to our faith that some have dubbed pre-evangelism which is an oft-overlooked concept in the church, to our disadvantage.
Granted, many people live their lives holding God at arm’s length with their questions and doubts. Unfortunately, the questions and doubts are not sincere, at least not enough to illicit a concerted effort in finding proper answers. Instead, as good and intelligent as those questions may be, the person turns them into an instrument by which they justify their personal lifestyle choices.
Which is a very dangerous way to handle truth.
By contrast, for those who are willing to listen, a reasonable approach to answering reasonable doubts can effectively clear the way for further investigation. It’s not that all questions can be answered exhaustively—life is too complicated for that; besides, that would leave no room for the work of faith. But God has provided sufficient answers to appropriate questions, giving rise to the existence of other answers to those remaining, however perplexing they may be.
“Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded…”
This, then, is the proper use of the spiritual bulldozer: helping remove the stubborn rubble when the wrecking ball of Truth comes in contact with my life. When it shows up, it’s best for me to get out of the way and let it do what it’s made to do.
Besides, I know the Guy at the controls.
- Acts 19:2-4 Holy Bible,New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.