Sunday, February 15, 2009

Movies and Metaphors

Today, we kicked off our series, "Building Your Dream Home," and we said that the Bible teaches that building a life is like building a house. I didn't exactly try to prove that point, but that is what the Bible teaches; that metaphor is repeated over and over throughout scripture:

We always do our teaching in series, and there are several reasons for that. For one, it allows us to explore issues more in-depth and with more thoroughness than simply trying to skim over everything in one week. Secondly, it provides some sense of comfort for people checking out the church that they'll have some idea what is coming--they'll know that it will at least be related in a clear way to what they observed today. Finally, it gives us the opportunity to explore biblical themes from more than one angle.

It's that last point I'd like to explore further. I'm often told by those members of our church who are more comfortable with a traditional worship service that they just don't "get" the video clips and the secular music and the skits that we incorporate into our services. For some, they get so distracted that they lose their train of thought; others just patiently sit and wait for me to start preaching again so that they can experience their preferred communication style.

Now, I sympathize with these individuals; I understand where they're coming from. What we do on a Sunday is very different than what they're used to experiencing in church all their lives, and it's a big change for them to adjust to. Not only that, they're sticking it out at PCC not because they personally enjoy the changes but because they believe in the church's mission, vision, and values, and understand that these changes are going to help us be more effective in communicating to the people of our community the message of Christ. So kudos to them--I think they deserve a lot of credit for being flexible and willing to change for the benefit of others whom they haven't even met yet.

Having said that, I'm still amazed at all the things that people fail to "get." When we show a video clip of a coach challenging his football player to keep going, don't quit, don't be satisfied with just what he thinks he's capable of, but keep pressing on and giving everything he's got, and we relate that to the Christian life (where God is calling us to keep going, don't quit, don't be satisfied with just what we think we're capable of, but keep pressing on and giving everything we've got), I don't get it when people say, "I don't get it." What better illustration is there for us to inspire us and cause us to want to become unstoppable?

I understand that there's a generation gap, that our society is transitioning from a modern mentality to a postmodern one. The modern mind is linear, concrete, logical, scientific, concerned with facts, and ruled by rationality, while the postmodern mind is connectional, abstract, experiential, emotive, concerned with relationships, and ruled by subjectivity. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

But regardless of what generation one belongs to, the Bible is a book that is filled with metaphor, word pictures, and the meaningful connection of dissimilar ideas. Just look at some of the sayings of Jesus:

  • I am the door.
  • I am the bread of life.
  • No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment.
  • Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
  • Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees.
  • The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
  • I am the Good Shepherd.

In fact, if you just read through the gospels, you'll find that almost nothing Jesus said was literal--he was constantly speaking figuratively, metaphorically. But it's not just Jesus--the psalms, the prophets, the proverbs and the other wisdom literature--are all full of symbolism and metaphor. And if we don't have the ability to think in pictures, we really can't understand in any meaningful way what the Bible is about.

So I want to issue an invitation to all of you who don't get it--keep trying, don't give up. There's something to be gained and grasped by linking these things together. This thing that we're talking about now--building your dream home--it's not my idea, it's not my metaphor. I got the idea from the Bible. So the skits about building, the video clips, the songs--they all reinforce the same biblical theme. If you don't get them, you're not getting what it is the Bible is teaching--you're missing God's word and the opportunity to understand it, to apply it and to live it in your life.

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