Column: What God’s trying to do
“You do not realize now what I am doing …” Jesus, quoted in John 13:7
Jesus continually spoke in parables to tell mankind who God is, what God does, and what the Kingdom of God is like.
If there is a common mistake Christians make interpreting the parables, it’s seeing them as instructions for worship, lessons for human life or teachings in earthly morality. Those are all important things that cling peripherally to the parables’ divinely identifiable meanings, but what Jesus is relaying in His parables is much bigger than day-to-day human experience and “Christian” behavior.
The parables, if we have ears to hear and eyes to see, teach us about the unprecedented event of God joining the human midst in the person of Jesus Christ. The parables aren’t God telling us what to do; they are God telling us who He is, God telling us what He is doing, and God revealing His truth as He sees it, not as we want it.
The human snag is that we seek too hard after advice in the Bible. We crave follow-able instructions. We want an easily discernable “To Do” list; it would make things so easy, ala, “Do this, do that, be saved. Rinse and repeat.” Instead what we encounter in scripture is the seemingly impossible task of coming to divinely-ordained grips with the glory of God through the person of Jesus in the biggest event in the history of humanity. Often those “grips” are encased in frustrating parables that don’t make a clear point about what, exactly, we are supposed to do.
That’s because, again, the parables are largely about God, and less so about us.
But because we tend to think all things are about us, so we see the parables as an instruction sheet: tell “me” what to do so I can be in compliance with “your” will. That’s actually not a bad summary of the old covenant of the Old Testament, e.g.: “Here is the Law; obey it, have faith, and be righteous.” Notice though that there’s nothing, really, about what comes next; nothing about God’s “end game.”
Note also our focus: “my” obedience, “my” faith,” and “my” righteousness. It’s all about “me.”
By contrast, the event of Jesus on Earth – His life, teaching, death and resurrection – describes God’s direction, purpose, and end game. In Jesus is the news of how God is going to solve the unholy mess mankind – with Satan’s chortling help – made of God’s perfect Creation.
Jesus Himself is the news of God’s love, glory and permanence. Sometimes we don’t see that.
Open up the Bible and read all about it.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) cites Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God.”