Friday, July 18, 2008

Have You Heard this Parable Before?

I just returned from a 2-day trip to Houston this week. For the 3rd straight year I was able to partner with my lil' bro. He is a talented worship minister!

Have you heard this parable?

A devoted Republican looks up to heaven and prays,
“God, thank you for my beliefs. I am pro-life because every form of life in a womb deserves to live. I am pro-marriage, because when I read Scripture, I am convinced that marriage was created to be between a man and a woman. Thank you for giving us, the Republican Party, our convictions to stand up for Christian morals, ethics, and principles. Thank you for not making us like those democrats."

A straight ticket Democrat puts their hands together and prays,
“Oh God, we care for social issues because you are a God who has always cared for the poor, the oppressed, and the least of these. You want all people taken care of medically with no regard of race or how much money is a wallet. Thank you for making me, and us, the champions of a greater cause than them. Thank you for not making us selective moralists like those Republicans."

An older person sat in church one day. They are disturbed by the service because it is senior Sunday and the youth group is doing everything in worship. They are up there singing all of "their" songs which are so totally different than the songs "we" grew up on--happy clappy and throwing hands up in the air. Praying informal prayers. And that sermon was more about stories and jokes than it was about the gospel. And worst of all, look at the way they are dressed—jeans, tucked out shirts and flip flops.
Then, one of teens says, “Bow your heads and let’s pray.” And the older person prays,
“God, thank you for how we did church years ago. You were so pleased with it. We were dressed in our Sunday best. We sang the songs that the apostles sung with Jesus, “How Great Thou Art,” “Gloryland Way,” and “Blessed Be the Tie that Binds.” We heard gospel sermons with 3 points. God, forgive them. And teach them the paths of maturity. Thank you for not making me like that."

A teenager sits in worship one Sunday morning. She rolls her eyes because three straight songs were sung that were written before 1980. "I feel like I’m at a funeral," she says. "Just bring out the pallbearers. Play the soft music. Someone must be going 6 feet under today. Man, what is up with these people. Oh no, is that Brother Bob getting up to pray? Oh man. Brother Bob prays those long prayers with all of those Thee’s and Thou’s. Nobody uses that anymore."

Then, she prays, “God, thank you for church camp because at camp we get to worship how we want to worship. We get to sing the good songs that actually brings smiles to your face. Thank you for making me young and not like those older folks."

Then, there walked in a 17-year-old girl. Her hands are clasped over her pregnant belly. Part of her wishes that she knew who the daddy was. The other half of her is glad she doesn't know. She felt the need to come to church one day. She walked in, but no one seemed to pay any attention to her. As is the case in most churches, all of the pews in the back were taken, so she walked to the front. Then, the song was sung, "Listen to our hearts. Here are spirit sing. A song of love that flows from those you have redeemed." With those words she fell to her knees and grabbed her heart praying silently to herself, "Have mercy on me, I am a sinner."

Who is justified in this story?


PS--if you haven't figured it out. Look at Luke 18.


Rick Ross said...

You hit the bulls-eye. I am preaching on Luke 18 next Wednesday night. I might have to borrow from my son on this one.

Jeff said...

I'm trying to learn to quit looking at people and actions through my eyes but to look at them through God's eyes. If I can ever get closer to seeing people the way He sees them I know I will be struck by more tragedy that I miss today caught up in my own little world...and I know I will see more beauty - His beauty - that I miss while judging people and things by my own likes and dislikes. I'm trying but I am slow in doing it.

Anonymous said...

I think the parable stereotypes those who follow a particular political party. I admit, I tend to vote for one party over the other (almost exclusively), but it's not because of the reasons described in the parable, but because of the platforms that the candidate is running on. And yes, abortion and gay marriage certainly are planks in the platform, but I don't think (as the parable insinuates) that God predisposed me toward a political party. I make that choice.

Josh Ross said...

I chose to use satire and sarcasm as I rewrote this parable in a 21st century context. I didn't want anyone to be the hero--rep., dem., old or young.
My version wasn't about politics or worship styles, but instead about looking down upon others whether it is because of race, social class, or any other form of entitlement.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with your explanation.

phil said...

Great post! It has always fascinated me who would be considered our role models in our culture and then comparing them to who Jesus picks to be the role models in His Kingdom. It’s always those minor characters in the gospels that we are to pay the closest attention to.

Steve Dye said...

Josh –

One night when I was studying for a Bible class with Brady Bryce, I looked at him and said, “You know, it’s pretty sad when you read one of Jesus’ parables and realize that you’re the bad guy.”

He smiled ... then he looked me in the eyes and said, “But what’s really sad is when you read one of Jesus’ parables, and you don’t realize that you’re the bad guy.”

Father, be merciful to me, a sinner.

kenandjoan said...

Great message!
Keep challenging us.

Tammie's Thoughts said...

Great post! Gives us something to really think's sad that we even have to be reminded NOT to look down on anyone!

Artist-Tim said...

You still have a few days to get the early registration discount for ZOE at Woodmont Hills in Nashville.
We are going!

Anonymous said...

The ladies class lesson this past week was the Samaritan woman, and this blog was a great follow-up to that story. I think it is absolutely amazing that a five man woman was able to bring a whole town to Jesus. Just goes to show that God will use anyone as an instrument for his purpose!

Great sermon on baptism today. If you missed it, be sure to check out the SVCC website for the video.

mouseclicker said...


You have done a great job in bringing this parable to the 21th century. One's judging view on Politics or Styles of Worship can get in the way in serving Jesus. It's sad because our Lord wants us to go back to the basics so we can say, "Have mercy on me Lord for I'm a sinner."