Modern Day Parables
Jesus was known for speaking in parables that spoke directly to the time and place of his listeners. As we read them today we do well if we can try to put ourselves in the place and time of his original listeners, to understand the context that they were said in. As followers of Jesus, Christians are called to engage the world in much the same way that Jesus did, yet we continue to use stories that seem unrelated to our modern world. The message of the parables can remain true, but can be shared in a more powerful way if shared in a context that people today will understand. Thinking about that today I came up with some examples of what parables might look like today. Remember, parables are just stories used to teach a lesson or convey a truth or principle. Think about that as you read these and try to make some of your own. We become more effective at reaching others if our stories speak to them in ways they can feel and understand. Enjoy.
Chocolate Chips and Neon Signs
You are the chocolate chips in the time-honored recipe for chocolate chip cookies. But if you lose your flavor or melt before the proper time what good are you to the rest of the ingredients? None, the cookies would taste awful and bland, nothing like chocolate chip cookies. The Baker will simply have no choice but to throw you away and get new chocolate chips.
You are a neon sign among unlit advertisements. All are calling out their message, but once night has come only you shine out and can give clear instructions. A smart business person does not put a billboard behind a cluster of trees; instead he puts it in the middle of an empty field, with lights to illuminate it at night, so that it can be seen by everyone, day or night. In the same way let your good works shine like a sign that obviously points to God.
The Wayward Husband
There once was a young couple. Throughout their courtship the young woman had remained faithful, always providing for her lover, never betraying his trust. On the other hand the young man was uglier on the inside than on the outside. He betrayed her trust every chance he got. They would share wonderful evenings together, romantic dates, funny movies, so many wonderful memories, but whenever the dates were over he would leave and chase after other women. In spite all this, the young woman loved him with all her heart, though her heart was often broken by his actions. They finally got married and the young woman was sure this would end her husband’s wild and devious ways. Unfortunately, the opposite happened. The young husband became worse, going out every night to get drunk with friends, chase loose women, and even slander the beauty and love of his wife. Mockingly he would say, “How stupid my wife is, she knows I do all this, yet she still waits on me hand and foot!” One day the young man realized how terrible he had been. He came home to confess everything to his wife. On the door was a note that read, “I know what you’ve done and where you have been, but I love you and forgive you, welcome home.” The husband relieved to know his wife still loved him. A few years went by and the young couple got a little older. The husband got laid off and in a rage went out on the town to get drunk and forget his troubles. He became more and more depressed because he couldn’t find a job. As he become more depressed he reverted more and more back to his old ways of behavior. He became even worse than before. All the while his wife stayed true and faithful, simply loving him in spite his short comings. One day the husband realized how terrible he had been. He came home to confess everything to his wife. On the door was a note that read, “I know what you’ve done and where you have been, but I love you and forgive you, welcome home.” The husband was relieved to know his wife was still loved him. Again a few years passed, the husband had found a new job and life seemed to be going well. The husband got promoted at work and through hard work continued up the ladder of success. But more and more he spent long nights at work and came home less and less. After a stressful day at the office sometimes he would go out and revert back to his old habits, but because he now had power and wealth he would buy expensive gifts and presents for his wife, thinking that this would keep her happy even if his behavior did not. The couple grew farther apart as the husband became more and more successful. One day the husband realized how terrible he had been. He came home to confess everything to his wife. On the door was a note that read, “I know what you’ve done and where you have been, but I love you and forgive you, welcome home.” The husband was relieved to know his wife still loved him. The couple grew old together. The old husband began to feel old age coming upon him and began to think of all the things he once dreamed of doing before he was a married, working man. The more he thought of these adventures, the more he came to resent his wife and career. He began to take expensive trips to exotic places he had always dreamed of. He went on adventure treks and went sky diving. He did all this, but he did it alone, because he blamed his wife for not ever doing all this in the first place. Trip after trip he took, creating memory after memory, but he was never satisfied, it seemed the more he did the more unsatisfied he became. One day the old husband realized how terrible he had been. He came home to confess everything to his wife. On the door were two notes. The first read, “I know what you’ve done and where you have been, but I love you and forgive you, welcome home.” The man was relieved to know his wife still loved him. The second note however read this, “Your wife has died and is buried in the local cemetery. No one could find you to give you the news. Sorry for your loss.” The man wept bitterly at this and entered his empty house.