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Modern-Day Parables

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Authored by Peter van Gorder (a guest contribution)

“Then he spoke many things to them in parables … and without a parable he did not speak to them.”1

From this we can conclude that parables were one of Jesus’ favorite teaching tools. Parables comprised one-third of His words recorded in the New Testament. He understood that a story sticks more than a sermon. A story is like a puzzle you put together to get the big picture. You’ve probably found that when you hear a story, you ask, “What would I do if I were in a similar situation?”

Most of Jesus’ parables are by now very familiar to us; some aspects have even become ingrained in the English language. For example, the stories of the Good Samaritan, the Rich Fool, the Good Shepherd, and the Prodigal Son have been told and retold, explored, and explained over and over. Jesus’ parables give us insight into how to love others and how to pray. They help us realize the “wow” factor of the kingdom of God and, most of all, how much God loves us.

A parable is defined as a short allegorical tale that contains morals, illustrating abstract ideas by means of concrete images and vivid word pictures.

For almost every spiritual principle there is a physical parallel. Our physical bodies are of the earth; therefore we rely heavily on our senses and our experiences to form our values and beliefs. “On earth as it is in heaven.”2 The invisible is manifested by the visible.3

When we read the parables that Jesus related to the people of His age, it’s easy to imagine the Master Storyteller pointing to a farmer sowing seeds in the nearby hills, or to fishermen throwing out their nets into Lake Tiberias. And it makes me wonder, if Jesus were walking among us today, what kind of parables would He tell? What physical images would He use to help us understand spiritual concepts? Perhaps some of them would go like the following:

The parable of the mobile phone

The kingdom of heaven is like two men who took their mobile phones with them everywhere they went. One of them was wise and the other one was foolish.4

The foolish man did not recharge his phone, so when an important message came in, no ring was heard. Because the caller could not get through, he stopped calling and an important business deal was lost.

The wise man always made sure his phone was fully charged when he left the house. So, when the caller called, he heard the ring and the vital business deal was made. Great was that man’s reward because of his faithfulness to recharge his phone.

The parable of the computer virus

Now learn the parable of the computer virus. When a computer is unsecured and exposed to the Internet, it can pick up a virus, Trojan, or worm. “Virus makers” continually upgrade their attacks and often disguise these computer viruses as pretty pictures or interesting programs. If you’re not careful or aware, you may end up infecting your computer.

In like manner, the Devil is always seeking to destroy your lines of communication with Me and others, and to invade your defenses and destroy your usefulness. In order to keep yourself free from his attacks, you should upgrade your spiritual defenses. Just as a wise man frequently updates his virus scanner, so can you ask Me for current methods to fight the Enemy of your soul who tries to find ways to infect you without you realizing it.

So, “be alert and of sober mind,”5 “pray continually,”6 and keep abreast of the latest virus protection updates!

The parable of the mop

And Jesus took a mop and put it down in the middle of a crowd of people. He said, “When a mop is first made, it is perfectly clean and spotless. That is how I came into this world, as the Lamb of God, untouched by the sins of mankind.

“As a mop is plunked and swished in the bucket with disinfectant, so I immersed myself in prayer, in My heavenly Father’s purifying love. And as a mop has no will of its own, so I did let the Father guide Me where He would—to the dark and dirty corners of the world. I had to allow myself to be exposed to the dirt and filth, just like this mop, so that I might be the offering for your sins, so that you could be made right with God through Me.”7

The parable of the Wi-Fi

Every believer that receives instructions about the kingdom of God is like a computer with a wireless connection that can send and receive messages through space. Because it has been programmed to the correct configuration, it can transmit and receive a great flow of information by invisible waves. And although the computer only has a little power in itself, because it is firmly connected to the main source of information, it can accomplish much and run smoothly. When glitches occur or when the connection is broken, pick up the phone and call the Technician. He will come quickly to correct the problem and the messages will flow freely once more.

The parable of the cross-country rally

The kingdom of heaven is like a car racing team made up of many members. Some are the mechanics, some make up the support team, and some are the drivers, yet all work together to keep the car in peak performance for the race.

Even though the race car is custom built to endure the long journey through rugged terrain, it needs to stop to change its tires, transmission fluid, oil, and fill up on gas. Though its gears strain to hug the road up and down steep hills, and though the driver may take a wrong turn and get lost, there is still a chance for him to find the right road again. If he follows the GPS that the Leader of the rally gave him, and “runs with perseverance the race marked out for him,”8 he has a chance to reach the finish line and win the great prize that awaits him and his team.

The Leader of the rally will say, “Well done! You have driven well over many kilometers of dusty and dangerous roads. Enter into the winner’s bay and have a blast!”

I’m not joking when I tell you that in that day there will be a victory celebration so glorious, it will never be forgotten.

The parable of the hard drive

Now learn the parable of the hard drive. As the hard drive stores information, so have I stored data deep within you of all that you have spoken and done in your life. Someday it will be accessed again, after you pass through the tunnel of light and the book of your life is opened to you.

In that day, I will judge all that you have done in your life and that has been recorded in the “book of life.”9 So be mindful of the things you do and say, for each keystroke is being recorded and stored in your hard drive.

To ensure that your information is something you will not be ashamed of, live for the things that will endure forever.

There are a number of things that can be used in a parable—even modern appliances and new technology can relate timeless truths. All we need to do is to take the time to be aware that Jesus still speaks and stop to listen to the stories that He would like to tell us. If you can think of a “modern parable” that you think Jesus would use today, share it with us in the comments section below.

1 Matthew 13:3,34 NKJV
2 Matthew 6:10 ESV
3 Romans 1:20
4 See Matthew 25
5 1 Peter 5:8 NIV
6 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV
7 2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT
8 Hebrews 12:1 NIV
9 Revelation 20:12

Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2012 by The Family International

Modern-Day Parables

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