Thursday, June 3, 2010

A parable

Skye lived in a land where everyone liked the color blue. They wore blue clothes, drove blue cars, and lived in blue houses. Their favorite food was blueberry pie.
Across the water was a land where everyone liked the color red. This was where Rose lived. She lived in a red brick house, drove a red car, and wore red clothes. Her favorite food was tomatoes.
Skye often joined her friends down on the beach. Together they would look across the water to 'red'land, and loudly invite the red folk to come over and try out the blue life.
“Life over here is more peaceful”, they said. “Red is too passionate. We feel like we are so in tune with all of nature. And blueberries are very healthy.”
Meanwhile, Rose and her friends were often on their beach, proclaiming the power and passion of their red-hued land. And the relative nutrition of tomatoes.

But for all of their orating and proclaiming at each other, no one ever even attempted to cross the water and try the alternative life.

In another part of the world was Jock. In his land, hockey was king. Everyone lived and breathed hockey. They had everything they needed to play hockey 12 months a year.
Across the water from this land lived Art. He and all his friends were painters. The land was filled with studios, easels and paint brushes.
When they didn't have their skates on, Jock and his friends were down on their beach, extolling the virtues of physical exercise towards the land where Art lived.
And Art and his friends were on their beach promoting creativity over violence.
Again, even with all of the effort put into the proselytizing, no one changed their location.

One day Skye started thinking and wondering if there just might be a little bit of value and enjoyment in just checking out red land.
So, she ventured across. Of course, she stuck out like a sore thumb in her blue garb, but to her surprise, Rose and the others welcomed her with open arms. They showed her all the tones of red that were around them. Skye checked out the brick houses, and even tried a slice of tomato. She went to a designer who fashioned her a blue and red striped jacket.
After a wonderful exchange of ideas and experiences between Skye and Rose, Rose decided to travel back with Skye and try some blueberry pie. In a peacefully passionate way, both of them told the rest of Skye's friends that they all had a lot in common. Skye admitted that Rose was really very nice, and so were her friends.
Rose actually donned a completely blue pair of slacks which didn't clash with the rest of her red attire (and loved the piece of pie she tried).

Meanwhile, one day Art ventured across the water. He was very apprehensive of the noise of the hockey arena, but decided he should paint a picture of the game. When he finished it, he presented it to Jock, who proudly hung it in his home.
Jock returned with Art to check out this whole painting gig. He soon discovered that his stick-handling ability translated well to wielding a paint brush, and soon had finished his first effort—which Art promptly brought to the main art gallery on the island where it occupied a place of honor (although many of the locals needed help in interpreting all of the movement it contained).

Over time, the tentative overtures of Skye and Rose turned into a sturdy bridge where there is now a lot of traffic. Although blue land is still predominantly blue, there are many shades of purple, mauve and plum, and some plaids and stripes. There are even a couple brick houses. Similar scenes can be seen in red land, although red is still predominant.
Jock is teaching a few of his friends how to release their passion by painting, and Art has built a small rink for his friends to vent their frustrations (but in a creative and controlled way).

If we were to continue to explore this vast world, we would discover an island where people meet in ornate structures, listen to the heavenly sounds of an organ, and together chant melodic and rhythmic words of eternal wisdom, read from a holy book.
Just across the water is a group of people gathered in the open air under a large tree where they are happily singing and dancing to the accompaniment of some drums. It took a long time for their bridge to be built, and then for many years the movement seemed to be only going in one direction. Fortunately, the traffic is becoming more two-directional.

On a different side of the land of ornate structures is another island where people are always getting together to ask questions and consider ideas. They don't necessarily expect or receive answers, but they love to discuss. When the first visitor arrived, repeating his words of eternal truth from his holy book, he was listened to politely. However, the response was a barrage of questions: “How do you know this is true? What about....? Doesn't this make just as much sense?”
Many of these questions were logical. Some of the questions had no definite answer. Sometimes the words from the holy book that the visitor read in response could be taken in different ways. Soon other visitors from the land of the holy book came to orate on the street corners. Often the visitor would feel the need to retreat rather than engage in the spirited dialog. It was safer back in the land of ornate structures.
But a few started building a bridge. This bridge became a place of safety and discussion. Most of the people continued to live where they had always lived, but found this bridge to be a great place to meet and learn. Even the people with the holy book learned to ask questions, and not always get answers. And the people from the land of perpetual seeking have begun to really appreciate the heart of the people of the land of ornate structures.

So, what can we learn from this parable?
As Skye and Rose learned, we are more similar than we think.
Jock and Art have shown us that passion doesn't always express itself in the same way.
And the inhabitants of structure-ville, drummer-ton, and the city of perpetual questions have demonstrated that it is not wrong to ask questions, nor is it wrong to form different ways of expressing what you believe to be true.

But for me, the biggest lesson is bridge-building.
There will always be islands of people who think differently. We can't expect everyone to come to our point of view, we need to understand theirs. People are usually very willing to help us get to know them, if we are willing to listen.
Let us be incarnational, and like Christ, become flesh and blood and move into someone else's neighborhood.

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