Tag Archive: parable


rich

i have just started reading this book by Ron Sider who we got to hang out with a little bit during our time at the Simple Way in Philly a couple of years ago. Recently he visited South Africa and i got to hear him speak and thought it was high time i got hold of this book which has influenced so many people.

This part i want to share is just from the Foreword and yet it already floored me – definitely not going to be an easy book to read i imagine, but suspecting it will be a life-transforming one. Continue reading

samaritan

i was online this morning trying to find the time and location of the Assemblies of God church i had heard about in Southfield…

Suddenly my search was interrupted by a phone call from someone i don’t know who was facing a bit of a crisis [her son who is in South Africa has recently run into some bother and she is not in the country] and asked if we could help out. [She knew of us through a friend of a friend and we had recently offered to help if a situation like this came up].

So i jumped in my car and sped across town [and back again and across again, shtupidt gps!] and connected with the guy and brought him home…

With the moral of the story being i didn’t get to church today…

Or did i?

i didn’t really think of any of this at the time or during today, but as i sat down at my computer, this story that Jesus tells, found in Luke 10, came to mind:

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

i said to tbV as we tried to figure this out earlier today, “You know, these stories are great stories to tell, but not so much fun to work out.”

And that is the truth, because there is a cost attached. And quite possibly a sacrifice.

We don’t know why the priest and the Levite refuse to stop for the man, but there is a distinct possibility that it was because they were in a hurry – with a preach to preach or a budget meeting to facilitate or someone to visit. And yet they were presented with a need that epitomised who they were and the work they were meant to be doing, and they did everything they could to avoid it.

Helping people is messy. It doesn’t often come with a set of instructions. The right call is not necessarily obvious. Sometimes it is hard and often you have to call others for help…

For the Samaritan there was a cost of time, money and resources and he gave freely of all of them.

So while i didn’t “go to church” this morning, i did get an incredible opportunity to “church”. One of the things i spoke about at both book launches so far was the idea of moving away from church being a noun [a place we go to] and seeing it more as a verb [a description of God’s people doing God’s stuff in love].

If we do go to a place on Sunday with a specific set of people at a certain time, then the hope is that whatever happens there will fuel and encourage and challenge and teach us and empower us for the rest of the churching which happens from Monday to Saturday…

Hope you have an incredible week of church…

[For more on the book, ‘i, church’ click here] 

rollinsi am busy reading and loving and being completely challenged by the book ‘The Orthodox Heretic and other impossible tales’ by Peter Rollins.

the first story from the book that i shared i titled ‘a parable to slap you in the face’ which you can read here and it is completely that…

and as much as i want to pretty much copy down every story from the book, but can’t, i would like to share another one in the hopes that it will encourage you to get hold of this book and read the rest of it for yourself.

oh, and some of you will be tempted to start formulating your argument to this story or the principle it is suggesting, as you are reading it, but i encourage to try and open your mind and heart and invite the Holy Spirit to really help you to honestly hear what is being said and test whether it might be something you need to hear and act on…

TURN THE OTHER CHEEK

WE STOOD AT A DISTANCE, WATCHING. We looked on silently as Jesus took His place on the top of a mound, waiting patiently for those who had gathered to settle themselves. We looked with a certain displeasure and discomfort at the disorderly mob that surrounded Him. There must have been hundreds of people pushing in to hear His words, most of them poor and hungry. The place was brimming over with the sck and the dispossessed, the widow and the orphan, the ones without a voice and without hope. We watched as Jesus looked at them with compassion and prayer peace into their lives. As He stood before them, we heard Him pronounce blessing upon those who are poor in spirit, for those who are mourning, for those who are meek, for those who are merciful despite their hardships, those who are pure in spirit, and upon those who seek peace rather than war. 

But Jesus also challenged them saying, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” He said to them, “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. If someone forces you to carry their pack one mile, carry it two. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” Then He finished by saying, “Do to others as you would have them do to you. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

When He had finished, He turned toward the west, where we were sitting, we who have the power, who have the authority, and who have a voice. For a time He just stared at us, then He approached and addressed us directly: “Do not be mistaken, these words are not for you.”

Then Jesus raised His voice and said, “I am sending you an infinitely more difficult message.” 

A time is coming, when those you now treat as enemies and slaves will show you nothing but love in return, when those who you curse with indifference will offer you blessing. When you slap these people on the right cheek, be prepared for they will turn their left cheek toward you. When you steal their cloak, they will offer you their tunic. And when you demand that they carry your possessions for one mile, they will freely carry those possessions for two. They will give freely what you demand from them, and they will not seek to gain back what you have stolen from them. They will treat you as you would long to be treated. You will judge them but they will not judge you. You will condemn them but they will not condemn you.

Before leaving us He finished by saying, “These people are my message to you. Heed this message and you will live. Ignore it, and you will perish.”

Commentary:

Whenever we open up our Bible and read that Jesus commands us to love those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and repay evil with kindness, it is easy to apply this to our daily interaction with others. However, these teachings were not given to people like us [by us I mean people who can afford to buy this book and are educated enough to be able to read it [or have computers and be able to be reading this blog – Brett Fish]. These were not spoken primarily for the powerful to apply as middle-class modern platitudes. They were spoken to the powerless, whose country was under occupation and whose very lives were under constant threat. 

It is likely that, like me, you do not face the kind of persecution that Jesus’ original listeners faced. Indeed the unpalatable truth may well be that we are the ones who oppress the type of people that Jesus spoke with – not directly with hatred in our hearts, but indirectly through the clothes we buy, the coffee we drink, the investments we make, and the cars that we drive. By reading these words in an affluent, Western setting we can so easily domesticate the words of Jesus to the extent that they become little more than advice on how to treat a shop assistant or a passerby.

In the above story I attempt to undermine the reduction of Christ’s words to the level of inane politeness by drawing out how the words are directed towards the oppressed rather than towards the oppressors. In this way I am attempting to remind myself that these words are spoken to those people whom I hurt and destroy through the choices I make on a daily basis, and that I am merely overhearing them. In the above story, I ask myself to imagine what Jesus would say to me if I had been there at the time. Would He address me with the words “If someone takes your cloak, give them your tunic as well”? Or would He be more likely to address me with the admonition “Stop stealing from the poor”?

Wo. Right between the eyes hey?

There are two unhelpful responses to reading this story:

# One of them is taking on a whole bunch of woe-is-me condemnation and just feeling bad or guilty for a while until it wears off… as opposed to perhaps being convicted to some extent and looking for some areas in your life that might require change [the products you buy for starters – why not begin with your coffee, chocolate, clothes, groceries, cleaning products?]

# The second response is to dismiss the whole story as twisting the words of Jesus to say something He wasn’t [this is an interpretation of the events and seems to speak to address the context quite effectively and i would agree that Pete’s ensuing questions are ones we should be asking and answering with much love and wisdom]

The helpful one would be to take time to really hear what it is saying, test whether the message is for you and the respond appropriately.

So continue to turn the other cheek if you believe that is what Jesus is saying to you through this story… but also be alert for where you need to be the one to stop slapping it…

i just picked up Peter Rollins book, ‘The Orthodox Heretic and other impossible tales’ today, am three stories in and already want to sit and type all three of them out.

but that’s probably illegal or something and so i’ll just share the one for now as an encouragement to get hold of this book and have your mind blown away a little bit.

and in fact it is the one story i heard him tell before, live at the Wild Goose festival, two years ago…

‘Jesus and the Five Thousand [A first world translation]

Jesus withdrew privately by boat to a solitary place, but the crowds continued to follow Him. Evening was now approaching and the people, many of whom had traveled a great distance , were growing hungry.

Seeing this, Jesus sent His disciples out to gather food, but all they could find were five loaves of bread and two fishes. Then Jesus asked that they go out again and gather p the provisions that the crowds had brought to sustain them in their travels. Once this was accomplished, a vast mountain of fish and bread stood before Jesus. Upon seeing this He directed the people to sit down on the grass.

Standing before the food and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks to God and broke the bread. Then He passed the food among the twelve disciples. Jesus and His friends ate like kings in full view of the starving people. But what was truly amazing, what was miraculous about this meal, was that when they had finished the massive banquet there was not even enough crumbs left to fill a starving person’s hand.’

rollinsCommentary: The initial shock of this story relates to the way that it inscribes selfish and inhumane actions onto Christ Himself by twisting the story we all know of Jesus feeding the multitude. While it would seem perfectly acceptable to attack governments, corporations, and individuals for failing to distribute goods appropriately and turning away from the poorest among us who suffer as a direct result of our greed, it would seem inappropriate to read such inhumanity into the actions of Christ Himself. If anything, Christ was one  who demonstrated a life of joyful simplicity, radical healing, and unimaginable love. Christ challenges us to look outward, and thus He should not be the One whom we condemn.

Yet in the Bible we read that those who follow Christ are nothing less than the manifestation of His body in the world today (Colossians 1.24, 1 Corinthians 12.27, and Ephesians 5.30]. The presence of Christ in the world is said to be directly encountered in the presence of those who gather together in His name. In very concrete terms, people learn of Christ through those who claim to live out the way of Christ. However, if Christ is proclaimed in the life of His followers, if the body of believers is thought to manifest  the body of Christ in the world, then we must stop, draw breath, and ask ourselves whether the above tale reflects how Christ is presented in the world today, at least in the minds of those who witness the lifestyle of Christians in the West.’

So yes, that is just one story out of three i have read so far, each one as equally powerful… you should seriously check it out.

 

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