Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Connecting Life with Faith: The Power of Parables

Sometimes we read our Bibles and we come to the parts where Jesus gives us a parable. For many long time Christians these parables serve as reminders for us. They remind us of priorities, faith, finances, and many other important issues.
I find it fascinating to think about these short stories that hold such potency. They can be understood by a child and deeply pondered on by a philosopher. They empower wisdom to one and baffle another.

I think the art of parables has been neglected somewhat. It seems some speakers enjoy to give long winded talks that seem to shout "look what I know!" While parables give place to a wise old story teller who humbly shares a short, enlightening story.

Let`s go back to Jesus again. Here is the Son of God, speaking to his followers. He could spout out a list of divine rules and carve into a tablet like Moses if he wanted to, but instead He tells us a story. Why? What is it about stories that transcend time, where laws need to be updated, revised and changed? Is it easier to a remember a list of do`s and don`ts or a profound story?

Now God has given us an imagination and from time to time I like to use mine. I feel inspired at times when I read Jesus` parables to imagine them in a 21st century situation. Let`s take the PRODIGAL SON for example.

The second son asks for the inheritance early. This means his father loses half his holdings, which is quite a financial blow. This means the whole family`s quality of life drops while this son goes to live in Las Vegas. This son likes to gamble and loves the nightlife but hits a bad string of luck and the money is all gone. Now he works at a pig farm. (by the way, there are pig farms outside Las Vegas. I saw it on Dirty Jobs) At this point he is so far in credit card debt he can`t even afford to buy lunch one day and so he sees something semi-decent in the pig slop. He starts to eat it and in this moment realizes that even the guy who mows the lawn for his dad eats better than this. From this point the son then does everything he can to get back to his old home and his family. He is desperate, but also guilt-ridden. He had been so self-absorbed that he didn`t even think of his family until he was in dire need. So he returns hitch-hiking his way back home. He finally arrives and his father, whose hair has turned gray and whose face has been aged by the stress of having to take care of his family with half of what he had before, sees his soon walking down the street, looking like a bum. He is startled for a moment and then he is moved by his memories of raising his son and seeing him grow up to be a young man and now he is reminded of how much he has missed this son`s presence. He runs into the house and grabs the Armani coat he had bought many years ago when things were going well and dashes out the door. He meets his son hugs him and throws the coat around his tattered T-shirt, as it starts to rain.

I will end here, but isn`t it fun! Giving a modern spin or background to these parables is like watching a TV drama unfold. The story is still a moving account in any generation. This is the power of Christ`s parables. The speakers of God`s word must have the ability to take their audience back to the historical time while telling the story, or be able to as Ezra did, "teach the word of God in a way that the people could understand." , meaning giving a modern approach to sharing these God- breathed accounts. Then we might even find ourselves translating God`s word into our own modern lives. Sharing a modern example could give us the very context to share the truths of these stories with even non-believers. In fact, I believe Christ`s parables are a great evangelical tool that maybe aren`t utilized enough. Perhaps our youth will be inspired to integrate a new form of media with Christ`s parables. Who knows the possibilities? even the power of God`s parables?

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