[Thought questions for Discipling Through Metaphor January 8, 2014]
Introduction. This week’s lesson may tweak your creative instincts searching for the connection between the topic for each day and the material presented. The first gap opens with Monday’s lesson, “Architectural Wisdom” which includes a brief paragraph about construction but nothing on architecture. Tuesday’s lesson, “Agricultural Analogies” hits the target with parables Jesus shared on the reception of the word by different types of soils, and the parable of the wheat and the tares. On Wednesday, the title, “The Revolutionary’s War,” is misleading until you notice the apostrophe. It’s not about the Revolutionary War, but the war of Jesus the Revolutionary. The last titled lesson, “Christ’s Creative Legacy” talks about the way Jesus used stories in His ministry as evidence of His creativity. Now let’s look at these one by one.
1. Metaphor. In college we used to say that a metaphor is something someone said but didn’t mean. “Oh,” we say after confronting one. “You meant that as a metaphor.” “All the world’s a stage,” Shakespeare said a few hundred years ago in one of the most famous of all metaphors. What is the difference between a parable and a metaphor? Why did Jesus speak in parables? Would we humans be able to understand fundamental principles of God’s kingdom such as sin, salvation, justification, and others without the parables Jesus told?
2. Nathan’s Parable is one of the most effective parables ever told. What is the message Nathan needs to deliver to David? How does the story he invents probably save his life and yet deliver the message? Review the parable of Isaiah 28. Do you ever consider the planting and growth of crops as an illustration of God’s care for us? Study the dialog between God and His people regarding the wine bottles. What lesson do you think is embedded in this illustration?
3. Architectural Wisdom. Monday’s lesson is not so much about architecture as about building a house on the rock–or on the sand. Still, as the plans were made, dimensions were determined, didn’t the builders believe they’d designed wonderful houses? That’s architecture. What tools of planning and design does God use when reaching out to us sinners and inviting us to turn to Him? What does it cost for you and me to accept ownership of an eternal home designed by the Master Architect? Do you think we’ll consider our hardships and suffering here on earth when we enter our eternal home with our Master and Savior, Jesus?
4. Agricultural Analogies. Imagine Jesus looking out over the fields and seeing evidence of His power on earth. Instead of relishing His own great wisdom and power in providing these agricultural miracles, what does Jesus see? How does He bring the lessons of the seeds and their ability to grow and blossom home to His listeners? Consider this sentence from the lesson: ”Disciples cannot surrender their judgment (discernment) to other professed believers because these believers may be weeds not wheat.” How does that statement relate to how we should share our insights in Sabbath School and family settings? Should we consider what fellow believers speak but hold back full surrender of our judgment until we have opportunity to study them and pray for insights?
5. The Revolutionary’s War. In what sense was Jesus a Revolutionary? What was His primary tool in challenging the teachings and example of religious leaders who had strayed from their fundamental purpose? Did these leaders consider Jesus to be a Revolutionary? Do you and I have a similar revolutionary role to play today? What do we need to do with all the blessings we enjoy today? Have you ever tricked yourself into thinking you were fortunate not to have anything to spur you to action but could sit back and just enjoy life? Jesus challenged accepted religious beliefs. Should we?
6. Christ’s Creative Legacy. Did Paul tell stories to get people’s attention? If not, what methods did he use? What stories or parables do we receive from such early Christian leaders as James? Peter? John? Do the real-life stories of the apostles cling to our memories and help us understand their love of Jesus? How much imagery and metaphorical language were involved in the delivery of the scenes of the book of Revelation? How can we use the gift of metaphors, parables, and stories in our personal testimony of the love of God for all of us?