Friday, December 19, 2014

A Semi-Parable About Ownership of Our Lives

A Parable About Our Lives

By Craig M. Szwed
Make believe that you're born into a farm community, which is your only means of survival. Think of your life and body, beginning at birth, as being loaned to you as a new, very costly, complicated, but relatively efficient piece of farm equipment, something that you definitely
will want to use for a long time. Your benefactor wants and expects that you will check in and communicate with him, regularly, about how things are going, if there are any special problems, how to improve your skills, and more. His gift to you has been to encourage a good relationship with him. He also expects and demands that you learn to cooperate with the other farmers whom he has similarly blessed. You’re already a farmer (a metaphor for being human). It simply is what you are. Why wouldn’t some wealthy, gracious, benefactor (i.e. God) give you such a piece of farm equipment (your life)? Right? OK. So you choose to use what you’ve been given, and communication should work in both directions.

So, along with that piece of equipment you also receive an appropriate set of tools and a manual for maintaining it while you use it. Since you have already been given the manual and the tools, why wouldn’t you want to use those to find the best way to use the machinery to your advantage, how to avoid dangers and inefficiencies, as well as learning how to improve regular communications with one’s benefactor? Makes sense, right? One might even learn that if you or neighboring farmers are a little ahead of, or behind, life's seasonal demands and schedule, you can help each other. Right?

But… our sin nature creeps in to spoil the benefactor’s ideal, by our greed, laziness, hatred, jealousy, or any of so many other things. Our selfish sin nature urges us to indulge ourselves and to fail to follow the simplest of our benefactor's ideals. Failing to heed the objectives according to our manual, most of the world disregards even the primary directions in what the benefactor says, so that eventually the farmers who heed the manual, and are really in touch with the benefactor, shall have to be extracted and transplanted to a better place. The rest of the farmers, who disregarded and disrespected the benefactor's manual, shall have fouled themselves, their equipment, their relationships with their benefactor, and the very ground they toil. Those who chose to heed and be communicative with the benefactor, according to his manual, who accepted his terms, then worked, proved profitable to him and to one another, shall not be left with those who fouled everything. The fouling farmers, who did not desire to change their contrary ways, shall be left to face ultimate destruction of themselves and everything that they shall have fouled. The latter shall not be allowed to profit from their unrelenting neglect of what the benefactor offered, and in their rejection of his manual and offerings they shall have chosen their destruction, being forewarned of it in the manual.  

The Benefactor who gives the machinery of life is not cruel, just precise and requires that we come to Him on His terms, expecting everyone to live and work by the same set of rules, to communicate with Him honestly when we mess up, accept His only Solution to our errors, and our need for help getting back on track with Him.

We know that all farmers make mistakes as well as have successes, so this is not about human work or perfection. This is a parable of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Bible, both of which many souls among us despise, neglect, or fail to apply properly to our own lives, attitudes, and behaviors. The sum of the whole matter is how to draw closer to God, establishing our own personal eternal working relationship with Him. He says that can only be accomplished by “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The majority of ‘farmers’, or living souls, choose to do things any way they can to try to make a profit or survive. Yet, as Jesus said, there are few souls who seek the Narrow Way, the Straight Gate, that allows through it only those souls with godly intent, who seeking only the salvation that Christ offers to us. Yet, there are also many who only seek self-justification, trying to earn their way into God's favor, or trying to win the approval or justification of the world. If we agree with what God, our only true Benefactor, has said and preserved for us in His Owner’s Manual, the Bible, then we will learn and grow toward His Light, yielding to His Christ, Jesus, being born of His Spirit by faith, then learning to obey Him and improve our lives. Without our careful attention to that Manual, and to Him, we do greatly err, even as He says throughout the Bible. Many of us do not read the Bible because we say that we do not understand it, but much of that is because we do not want it to expose our sin. Before we ever can receive Christ we must call our sin what God calls it, for that is the beginning of repentance. Let us all beware lest we neglect and miss the only Christ and salvation that God offers to us. 

Whether one is already a child of God, in Christ, or not, look to Him, find Him, in God's Word, the Bible, and let us all seek the full measure of what God, our Benefactor, offers to us. For those who are already children of the Living God, He cautions us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

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