I will be the first to admit that I have a hard time learning something practical about life. I believe that my issue is that I think I’ve heard it all before. No matter how many times someone tries to drill discipline into me, it doesn’t stick and instead sounds like platitudes. The same can be unfortunately said of scripture and parables. In the modern-day of fast-paced media, it can be challenging to get the message across about living for God with the same parables of the Bible because these people (who will be referred to as “the audience”) have heard it before. They know about the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan as well as many of the stories of Jesus, and it’s easy for the audience to tune out when these are preached because they grew up with them as the equivalent to fairy tales or after-school specials. So, what do we do?
I started to think about our own lead pastor, Rick Moore’s, sermons and how he always has a personal story to interject about conversing with God or growing up in Indiana or whichever car he almost totaled a few years ago. I thought about how similar it was to Jesus’ own style of teaching. Jesus was not a college professor just lecturing to an audience off of a PowerPoint presentation, He would tell a story along with His sermons. The stories Jesus preached were not ones that the masses had heard over and over again as children, they were brand new at the time and original works. After telling His stories, Jesus would ask the audience what the message was and then elaborate. This is how we should also be teaching: with new parables.
When someone’s heard a story one-thousand times prior, there’s little for them to take out of it. With a new story, however, the audience doesn’t know where it’s going. A well-told story like Jesus’ parables or Rick’s car troubles will lead the listener on an adventure they’d never heard to a destination that wraps everything up in the right message. The story will challenge them to think about what happened and how it was possible, as well as invite them to ask questions that will eventually lead them to God’s embrace.
When we look at the events around us and think about them, we can often find something that we or someone else could learn from them. When we speak from our personal experiences, we speak the truth. These are experiences God has given to us so that we can talk about His mercy as fact instead of fairy tales.
So it’s crucial to think about every encounter and the events that led up to why that woman paid for your coffee or how that flat tire made you arrive late enough to meet the homeless person outside the CVS. It’s important because these can be new parables for the modern day in which new audiences can be taught in a way that keeps their attention and engages them in the narrative of God’s love.