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Parable

I've been thinking recently about the teachings of Jesus; why He taught the way He did. Skimming through the gospels, one notices His frequent use of parables and illustrations. Why?

 

For starters, parables help us to see glimpses of another world. When I returned to the States after a trip to Papua New Guinea, a very different country with a very different culture, I found it helpful when trying to communicate what I had experienced to my American family and friends to draw parallels with things they experience every day. In explaining the kingdom of heaven, Jesus seems to take this approach (see Matt. 13; video).

 

Thus, parables help us to see another world. But parables also serve another function: to change the way we see this world.

 

At creation, humanity was given work. For instance, Genesis records the assigned tasks of naming the animals and tending the garden. But these tasks were done with God (cf. Gen. 2). Thus, the common, every-day tasks were spiritual. In fact, the Hebrew word for work (avodah) may also be translated as worship.

 

That's pretty different from how we tend to view things. I often notice myself thinking of my work and spiritual lives as being in competition. Perhaps Jesus' parables are an invitation to return to view work as an act of worship.

 

Writing on the teachings of Jesus, E.G. White offers this profound insight:

In the plowing and sowing, the tilling and reaping, He teaches us to see an illustration of His work of grace in the heart. So in every line of useful labor and every association of life, He desires us to find a lesson of divine truth. Then our daily toil will no longer absorb our attention and lead us to forget God; it will continually remind us of our Creator and Redeemer. The thought of God will run like a thread of gold through all our homely cares and occupations. (Christ's Object Lessons, p. 26-27)

It's like Jesus is teaching us to see a dimension we've forgotten about: the spiritual dimension. And just as every object has height and width and depth, so everything around us is full of spiritual truths.

 

I'm reminded of this every time I clean my bathroom.

 

Yep, scrubbing my dirty tub and nasty toilet never fail to remind me of the gospel. Note well, my roommate and I are a couple of guys who let the bathroom get pretty disgusting before feeling compelled to do something about it. The routine usually goes something like this:

 

"Friends are coming over; better clean the bathroom."

 

Spray. Scrub. Wash.

 

"This is really gross."

 

But then...

 

"Wow, I had forgotten the tub could be so white!"

 

And about this time, an ancient Scripture comes to mind about God making my dark sins "white as snow" and "like wool" (Is. 1:18). Then, as I continue to clean, I do so with a heart full of appreciative-awe for my Redeemer, reminded of His great sacrifice and the awesome cleaning He's accomplishing in my life.

 

Slowly, my sight is being restored. I'm learning to see the forgotten spiritual dimension in my everyday tasks. How about you? Share in the comments below an experience where you learned to see the spiritual dimension.

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