We Christians, especially us evangelicals, are very keen on programmes and courses. It suits our desire to package things. And we all sometimes like pre-packaged goods, whether it’s a ready meal or a story. Life would be impossible without them, especially the Western consumer lifestyle.
I suppose it’s good to have something in the freezer that we can bring out when necessary, a gospel ready-meal, covering the basics of Christian truth. But I can’t help feeling something has been lost. This is God we are packaging, the Ultimately Unpackable.
And the danger with a power-point summary of the gospel is like every other power-point you’ve ever seen, it passes through the mind without ever being internalized. All the boxes are ticked, you’ve had the training, but in another way none of the boxes have been ticked.
His stories are like the smell of coffee. They spike curiosity. They set you off on a hunt for the source.
Jesus told stories which were incomplete accounts of the gospel. Unlike many a polished salesperson, he didn’t ‘seal the deal.’ He didn’t bring people to a decision or get them to fill out a response card. He often just walked on.
Why did he do this? There may have been many reasons. Not being stoned to death in a religious hothouse might have been one. But he also understood human nature. His stories are like the smell of coffee. They spike curiosity. They set you off on a hunt for the source. And that which you discover for yourself you enter into and own and don’t forget.
What does this mean for us? Are we sometimes too keen to spell out the gospel? Is it always appropriate? Or should we learn to watch and wait? Hmm …