“He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.’” —Matthew 13:31
A cute newspaper cartoon caught my eye several years ago that illustrated an important reminder. It pictured two contestants competing on a television game show. Ted, contestant #1, could not hit his buzzer quickly enough to answer a single trivia question. His opponent always buzzed in first and answered the last 200 questions correctly. His opponent? God. Makes sense—God knows infinitely more than Ted or any of the rest of us will ever know!
Jesus’ parables fascinate me. He could have played Trivial Pursuit – Septuagint Edition with any religious scholar of the day and beaten him without effort. He could have amazed His listeners with the mysteries of the universe, but He didn’t. He told simple stories about simple events in everyday life and then gave simple applications for living. He made God’s truth simple enough for a child to understand.
Those who engage in “God talk” (theology) sometimes use words most people don’t understand and explain divine truth in philosophical terms that produce more fog than clarity. This common tendency can be tempting for theologians: we want our listeners to realize that we know what we are talking about. But, do we actually communicate?
Jesus sets an important example for us because He always kept the goal of His communication in mind.
He wanted to explain divine truth in simple words so His hearers could understand how much their heavenly Father loves them and wants to be in daily relationship with them.
I have taught a Sunday School class most of my adult life. I frequently ask questions to engage the group in conversation and reflection. The most common response to many of those questions: “it is too complicated for me to explain.” I agree that spiritual truths challenge us to the depth of our understanding, but we must not overthink them. God created an amazingly complex universe that operates with more precision than a jumbo jet. On the flipside, the love and care of our heavenly Father is as simple as the hug and kiss I give my grandchildren. We must all find ways today to talk simply—like Jesus.
Prayer for the week:
Lord Jesus, thank you for communicating with us in simple ways. Thanks for creating just the right word pictures to bring us the understanding we need. We know as almighty sovereign of all creation, You could overwhelm us with the mysteries of this life, but you don’t. You speak simply enough for a child to understand. Help us to represent you well today as we share Your good news with our hurting world. Amen.
Posted in: Coffee Break by Frank Moore, editor in chief of Holiness Today and general editor for the Church of the Nazarene.