How do you respond to criticism? My first reaction isn’t constructive, I must confess. I want to argue or fight back. But after letting my negativity subside, I’ve discovered it often helps to ask pertinent questions, to let the truth soak in deeper and have its way with me.
If you haven’t already listened to the short audio messages I posted earlier in the week, here are the links again. They are about how Jesus used parables to sneak past our defenses with tough truth:
To let this parable have its way with you, here are some of the kinds of questions you might ask:
In what sense is teaching from God like a seed?
What influences in our world tend to make our “soil” hard, so that His truth bounces off?
What is the danger of religion that focuses mostly on drumming up emotional fervor?
How much hard work does a seed expend in order to be fruitful?
If none, then what does it do? How is the fruit produced?
How are your eyes and ears; do you have defenses to shield you from God’s dangerous truth?
When Jesus told a parable, it was a time-release gotcha, His version of a Trojan Horse. He’d light the fuse on what looked like a nice little story and slide it right past the people’s defenses. Too late, they’d realize His stories were aimed at them, at their bone-headed stupidity or wickedness.
As an experiment, this week I’ve edited an audio message about one of His parables into five chunks, each about 5 minutes long or so, thinking you might spread them out and listen to them during the week. You will discover His seemingly harmless story springs its trap just as effectively today as it did when He first told it. So, you have been warned: Listen at your own risk. Here they are the audio links. Take your time and work your way through these chunks in order:
If you are willing, let me know how you respond to blog messages in audio form. They are more work on this end, but worth it to me, if they work for you,
Would Jesus deliberately disguise or hide the truth from some people? That’s a question His disciples asked and you might be surprised at the answer. If you have a bible, turn to the 13th chapter of Matthew and listen to the audio clips below. I’ve sliced and diced an original message into 5 bite-sized chunks, so you can fit them into your schedule flexibly
It would be helpful to me to know how this different blog format worked for you. Did you have any problems listening? Were the individual sections too long or too short? Any other suggestions or feedback? I may not be able to respond or post all of the responses, but please know I’ll read them and take them into consideration.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:3b-9, NIV)
Let this curious parable of Jesus stick in your mind today. Do you have “ears to hear?” What’s the lesson here? Can you find yourself in this parable? What did Jesus allude to with the “crop?”
We will see how He explained it next time. For now, chew on it.
Quotes from The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.