The Parable of Three Friends

A reading for Thursday, December 12, 2013: Matthew 23:13-26

A story* borrowed from Alan J. Roxburgh, professor at Fuller Seminary and founder of the Missional Network... paraphrased to fit.

There were once three friends.  They grew up together and did everything together.  They were never separated, and almost appeared as one at times never apart.  After High School they went off to college, together and lived together.  They often talked long into the night about their hopes and dreams for the future.  Again, united in all things.

Then after college one got married and moved away to a new job.  Then the other, and finally the third until they were living apart finally after so many years.  Except for the occasional Christmas card or brief communication via the internet, the friends lost touch with one another as so often happens.

Then one decided it was time to get back together.  He contacted the other two and invited them to travel to his home for a reunion weekend, bringing their families together for the first time.  They were all very excited.  First on the agenda for the weekend was a dinner with just the three friends. They went to his home, gathered around a table and began the evening of catching up.

But much to the surprise of the other two, the one that wanted to reunite spent the entire night talking only about himself.  The other two could not get a word in.  He talked and he talked and he talked and he talked. At long last the night was over, and two of the friends left frustrated and dejected by what had taken place with their once beloved, close friend.  It seemed it was all about him.

Here's the point.  What if the three friends represent the church, the culture, and the Word of God?  The friend who wants to reunite and also the one that only talks about himself is the church.  And the others are the ones that can't get a word in.  Our health, and our budget, and our growth, and our programs, and our staff, and our location, and our stance on an issue, and our polity, and on an on...  absent from the discussion is what God might be up to in the culture and world around us.

Jesus chided the Pharisees and the Scribes for their inability to wash the inside of the cup, only concerned with how others would see the outside.  He accused them of only focusing on themselves and their ceremonial practice of faith, while the world around continued to suffer in grief and loss.  The were preoccupied with themselves.  They too talked and talked and talked and talked.

Perhaps the Word of God, and even the culture has something to say to us too if we can only listen?

*Roxburgh, Alan J.  "Missional, Joining God in the Neighborhood." (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2011), 31.


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