Why the Emerging Church loves Parables
The Emerging Church loves mystery. Who doesn’t, right? Well, they really love mystery! They love the excitement of the unknown; the thrill of finding the hidden treasure. They love the great find of the valuable pearl; and the enormous growth of the tiny mustard seed. They love going where no one else is going to find Gods kingdom. The Emerging Church loves to live out the simple mystery of Jesus parables.
The Emerging Church wants to serve outside the walls
The Emerging Church believes they are a hidden reality. They find it attractive to be mysterious. In Jesus’ parables, the Emerging Church finds a new life on the brink of the unknown. They don’t mind being the small mustard seed, (a small group) meeting in someones house that goes out once a week to have friendly conversations with the poor. They want to be the leaven that God takes outside the walls of church, fermenting the whole world. They deeply believe there are things “hidden since the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13.35) that they must reflect to the world.
The man who sowed the mustard seed went outside his house to plant the seed in a field (Matthew 13:31). The man who cast a net into the sea was outside the four walls of the church building (Matthew 13:47), sifting through the fish. The man who sold all he had to buy the field was outside, living among the rest of the world when he found the hidden treasure within the field (Matthew 13:44). The Emerging Church knows that the merchant in search of fine pearls was willing to go broke after he found the pearl of great worth (Matthew 13:45-46). The Emerging Church wants to be the kingdom of God outside the building walls that the Word of God settles in, sprouts and then grows to produce great fruit (Matthew 13:1-9). The parables paint pictures of the dirty, mysterious, simple, yet adventurous life…and the Emerging
Church loves it!
The Emerging Church wants simplicity out of complexity
Two weeks ago, I bought a book titled Simple Church. The subtitle reads, “Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples.” The authors, Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger have discovered something simple yet extremely significant about the church today–people are searching for simplicity out of complexity. While the parables of Jesus may appear complex, the message of each parable is simple. The Emerging Church is not another church model. It is a church that wants to simplify what the conventional church has made complicated. They want to live out the adventure spoken of in the parables…and throughout the Bible.
Application #1: Simplify the Church
What is most attractive about the parables is the simplicity of the stories. They are not about priests or religious leaders. They are not elaborations on Old Testament stories. They are not full of useless details. They are rich with simplicity and yet make the reader (or hearer) think about something complex. They tell us something that we know exists, but then help us put a finger on it. There is nothing glamorous about the parables. Even a child knows about a pearl, field, seed and a farmer. Yet, Jesus’ simplicity was absolutely attractive to the world. In a culture tainted by religious complexity and legalistic tendencies, Jesus’ words brought simplicity and power.
How can we simplify the church? Well, this is certainly a difficult task. Consider the Bible, thousands of pages long. Consider the church programs, they seem endless. What about the building itself? It always needs maintenance and upkeep. How do we simplify the church? Where do we begin?
We begin by removing the clutter. We get to the point. We say “no” to the smorgasbord of religious activities. We say “no” to being a manufacturer of religious services and benefits. We keep it simple. We live the Christian life together remembering the poor. We pray together. We proclaim God’s grace to the world. We live as the
kingdom of God, not as the country club with a religious twist. Uncluttered. Focused like a woman searching for a lost coin. We keep it as simple as a farmer planting a seed; as a merchant catching fish; as a man searching for treasure in a field. Rejoicing over the coin that is found!
Application #2: Take Hold of the Treasure
The parables of Jesus are so fascinating because they are extremely simple yet they have the power to move someone to change direction. A complete 180! The man walking in a field sees a treasure and then covers it up again and sells all he has! He goes back and buys the whole field! Not just the treasure, but the whole field that held the treasure! Wow! So simple! So life-changing! The Emerging Church wants to take hold of the treasure and let go of all the clutter. They want to live the 180 degree turn of the man who found the treasure and bought the whole field! They want, by God’s grace, to be the kingdom of God.
Parables help the Emerging Church value simplicity. Each day, they want to live life as the “simple church” that shares the joy of the hidden treasure. They want to follow the way of the master who distinguished himself from the religious culture of his day. By removing the clutter that bogs many churches into busy-ness, the Emerging Church exists to reflect the simplicity and mystery of Jesus’ parables.