walking parables...

As I've been thinking more and more about the spiritual formation of people and my role as pastor in that, I've run across a word that encompasses a lot of what I've been learning lately:

Parable- n. a metaphor or story used to translate one reality into another.

As I was talking with my church planting mentor, he spoke of the fact that Jesus acted as a parable of God to humanity. Jesus was the God-man that precluded the coming of God's indwelling of me through the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself was a parable in that he "translated" God's reality into our reality (God's kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven).

So, as we're being formed into the likeness of Christ, we should think of ourselves as parables of God's kingdom. This might be tied to the fact that while you see encouragements to "preach the gospel" in the New Testament, the overarching call seems to be to "live a holy life" and show others the parable of God. Evangelism then seems to be about living a holy life with opportunities to preach the gospel verbally mixed in there, instead of the other way around. At least with the way I'm wired, evangelism has to weigh more relationally than opportunistically in the long run.

Growing up, I was always intimidated by "evangelism" because I thought it meant I needed to convince someone of the truth. I would see street preachers (I even knew one personally) and I would feel shame because I had speaking gifts, but was afraid to do what they were doing. With the dawn of leading a church soon coming, I've felt more and more that I needed to understand this in the context of walking with God in the everyday and mundane of life. It may seem trivial, but somehow preaching the gospel couldn't feel strange. It had to be something that fit with living life, not something that was an occasion or staged all the time.

The real test for me was whether it was something the Holy Spirit would jive with. If He wasn't cool with it, I figured I'd hear about it somehow. But the opposite has happened- I've taken more evangelistic opportunities than ever and it seems very natural. I'll be the first to admit that God calls us to do things that are uncomfortable at times, but when something feels fake like all this did, I knew there was something wrong. So far, so good.

Now all I need is a 10-pound Bible and a megaphone and I'm all set.