From the Student Ministry….

Back to Basics

This month I have started back at the basics. Whether the youth have understood this is my hidden intention or not, I have been focusing on what values we should hold as Christians, as Christ-followers, as the church. I believe to do this we should understand better what Christ actually taught and valued.  So we are looking at his parables.

Full honesty, it is a personal favorite to teach on the parables. I have explained to the youth, these are the lessons Jesus wanted us to know. When he was able to sit down and choose what he wanted to talk about he chose these stories. When they wrote down what they thought most embodied what Jesus was about they kept his parables. 

Jesus gave us situations that made us work for the solution so that we had to engage our emotions and imaginations. Jesus did not want to give lists and rules. Jesus wanted us to understand values and compassion. Jesus didn’t want hypothetical or super spiritual dogma spread around. Jesus wanted real change and real application. 

We are following the work of Amy-Jill Levine— please take a moment to look her up— in her book Short Stories by Jesus. She explains that Jesus’ parables are often taken out of the context in which they were told and over spiritualized beyond practical applications. Levine redirects us to see Jesus’ teachings as practical lessons from a Jewish rabbi who was genuinely seeking change in his current society. She encourages that, if you are not challenged by a parable, unsettled into action, then you are not reading it closely enough. 

The youth and I are discussing what those practical lessons were then and how they can translate now. What we are discovering is that these parables begin to have much more application than if they are taken as strict allegory. Jesus wanted grace to be practiced, not just towards our eternal souls, but towards our neighbors’ earthly bodies. The challenge we are left with is to find the way to bring the Kingdom of God to earth, not wait to see it in heaven. 

I encourage you to look and see. That is what we will be doing.