2/14/12 Angel, about 45
On the treadmill next to me at the workout gym this morning was a woman I only run into there once in a while. We've only had polite, shallow conversations until today when I asked for her opinions about the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25). I explained that I will be teaching about this parable and am gathering feedback about it from different people. Angel is Catholic but believes the Bible is only a human invention, not to be taken as the Word of God. She was familiar with the parable of the talents but confused it with the Prodigal Son, a story that makes her mad because to her it seems the Prodigal is rewarded in the end for squandering his inheritance. Angel takes great pride in the hard work she does for a living, looking down on most poor people for being lazy. She liked this parable, because the hardworking people are rewarded for their efforts. Still, she felt the punishment of being cast in the outer darkness and the weeping and gnashing of teeth was too harsh. She finished her workout and had to leave before we could talk much further, but I feel that instead of burning a bridge of communication, talking about this parable helped build a bridge with Angel, and I look forward to sharing more gospel truths with her in the future.
Jesus, who taught so much through the use of parables, also said "I have not come to bring peace, but a sword". He knew that His good news of the Kingdom of Heaven would cause division, even among family members. The gospel is by its very nature confrontational. Isn't that one thing we fear about witnessing - causing division? Especially when it comes to people we have an ongoing relationship with. How do we avoid "burning our bridges" when sharing the deep truths of the Gospel, truths that could easily cause discomfort, division, and even pain in the relationship we have with a loved one or a friend. I believe this is one reason for Jesus' use of parables in conveying spiritual truth. They have a way of dispensing truth in small, easy to swallow doses rather than in a fatal overdose. I might not have the luxury of time with a stranger I may never see again so with them I've learned to get to the point quickly, but with ongoing relationships a parable sharing spiritual truths might be just what they need to hear.