Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Devotional 120110

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Hope your new day bring you new excitement to anticipate God’s leading and lesson for your life. You don’t need to go back to school like me in order to learn new things about God and His work around the globe. You can experience Him in the informal classroom called life. One of my friends in seminary committed to serve among an unreached people group in the mountain region of Peru. His ministry is to train the local Christians to become pastors. He said that the best learning time for these students was when they had coffee after class. Nobody would have any questions to ask in class. But during the informal coffee time they opened up their souls to one another and many questions were raised. I guess it is equally true to Chinese. We share more during refreshment time than during formal Bible study time. Our Lord wants to visit us during the informal time besides the formal worship or gathering time that we do as a ritual. He will visit you in the most informal setting in your life too.

The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?” He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight” (Matthew 13:10-13 Message). Jesus was a master at subversion or sedition. Until the very end, everyone, including his disciples, called him Rabbi. Rabbis were important, but they didn’t make anything happen. On the occasions when suspicions were aroused that there might be more to him than that title accounted for, Jesus tried to keep it quiet—“Tell no one.”

Jesus’ favorite speech form, the parable, was subversive. Parables sound absolutely ordinary: casual stories about soil and seeds, meals and coins and sheep, bandits and victims, farmers and merchants. And they are wholly secular: of his forty or so parables recorded in the Gospels, only one has its setting in church and only a couple mentions the name God. As people heard Jesus tell these stories, they saw at once that they weren’t about God, so there was nothing in them threatening their own sovereignty. They relaxed their defenses. They walked away perplexed, wondering what they meant, the stories lodged in their imagination. And then, like a time bomb, they would explode in their unprotected hearts. An abyss opened up at their very feet. He was talking about God; they had been invaded!

Jesus continually threw odd stories down alongside ordinary lives and walked away without explanation or altar call. Then listeners started seeing connections: God connections, life connections, eternity connections. The very lack of obviousness, the unlikeness, was the stimulus to perceiving likeness: God likeness, life likeness, eternity likeness. But the parable didn’t do the work—it put the listener’s imagination to work. Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful becomes the exercise of our faith.

Our Lord knows the rebellion in human heart. Instead of spoon feeding us the spiritual food (He knows many will refuse), He offers in the form of informal story telling. If our hearts are ready to seek the truth, we will be inspired by His story. If we are still trying to save ourselves or prove our wisdom better than God, we will walk away wondering why God will send a most unlikely teacher to tell such simple story. One way or the other, He is still able to trigger our imagination to ponder on the truth.
Therefore, don’t underestimate the little thing that may happen to you today. Who knows, it may be the divine providence of God to make you think about Life above.

Love you in His Truth,

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