Spring Loaded Stories

Jesus told a lot of stories. Why? Why not systematic theology? Or a collection of morning devotions? Let me offer one answer among many: stories are springs. Jesus compressed explosive energy into the smallest stories. It’s easy to lazily race through his stories, but if you stop, slow down, and release the spring, Jesus propels us far deeper into God, ourselves, and one another than we might expect.

Take the parable of the mustard seed, one of Christ’s shorter stories,

And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32)

I normally race through this parable. Yeah, yeah, God’s kingdom starts small, but grows tall. I insert perfunctory prayer about church growth and move on.

But this story packs immense power! If we release the spring, it explodes into dozens of questions and applications. Am I, as an individual the mustard seed, or are we as a group of followers the mustard seed? Is this a process that occurs many times,  in many churches, or does Jesus describe the whole historic growth of God’s Kingdom? Who are the birds taking rest in the branches? Seekers and unbelievers, or committed followers of Christ? Who does God call, church leaders or all believers, to provide rest and shade for said birds? What does shade mean anyway? Is the garden the world, or is it just my local community? Is the sower God, or followers of Christ?

Like I said, stories are springs. They jettison us into deep reflection about God, his purposes, and his call on our lives. Each one of these questions justifies a single blog post. But we race so quickly through Christ’s words that we miss the message. We miss the power. Ask yourself: do you meditate long enough on Jesus’s words to allow them work upon you? Do his parables make you think?  If not, you’re missing out on the life-changing stories of the greatest storyteller (and man) who ever lived.

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