I’ve been thinking a lot about metaphors lately—especially the ones most commonly used in church. Whatever metaphor or metaphors we choose to be primary will inevitably shape both our perspective and approach—how we think and how we behave.
The military metaphor is one we’re all familiar with. “I’m in the Lord’s army… Yes Sir!” (I sang that a lot as a kid growing up in church). What I don’t love about this metaphor is how simplistic, black and white, its perspective is. Either you’re fighting with me or you are my enemy. Everyone is either a good guy or a bad guy. Life is a battle. There are winners and there are losers.
The competitive metaphor is similar. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt says, “This tribal psychology is so deeply pleasurable that even when we don’t have tribes, we go ahead and make them, because it’s fun. Sports is to war as pornography is to sex. We get to exercise some ancient, ancient drives.” So in sports, you’re either fighting with me or you are my opposition. Life is a contest. There are winners and there are losers. Nobody wants a tie.
While these types of metaphors are certainly found in Scripture, I do wonder about people who adopt them as their primary metaphors for the Christian life.
Maybe we need to pay attention to the other metaphors too… the agricultural, farming, gardening ones. And the dinner, banquet, party ones.
“Mary Magdalene turned around and saw Jesus standing there,
but she did not know it was Jesus…supposing him to be the gardener.”
–John 20.14, 15
The first person to see the risen Christ was Mary Magdalene. It happened in a garden. At first Mary thought Jesus was the gardener. A logical mistake. Or a prophetic mistake.
Or perhaps not a mistake at all.
On Good Friday Jesus was buried in a garden. A garden is a place to cultivate and grow living things. An appropriate place for Jesus to be buried. A few days before his crucifixion Jesus had said, “Unless a seed…” continue reading here
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