Parables, Christian Radio, and Connect-the-dots

It’s a good thing Christian radio wasn’t around when Jesus came to Earth. He would have been aggravating to program directors and listeners alike.

That’s my theory, at least.

I mean, he always managed to draw a crowd, and he always kept them engaged. Plus, he was great at telling stories. But he never handled his stories the way we Christian radio folks like to handle them.

Think about the parable of the sower. Jesus basically says, “So there’s this guy, right? He tosses out some seeds, and they land all over the place. Most of them don’t grow much, because they land in the sorts of places where stuff doesn’t grow. But the seeds that landed in good soil grew to be nice and healthy.”

And that’s it. No contextualizing. No explanation. Not even a hint.

Just turn off the mic and play some Tomlin.

Before you tell me that if I was living in that culture, the whole story would make sense by itself, read a little further. The disciples don’t even get it. They come up to Jesus, probably a little sheepishly, and say, “We’re sure there was something really profound in that story, but we just can’t figure out what it was.” Jesus explains himself, but he doesn’t go back to his audience and clear things up. He’s content to let everyone connect the dots by themselves.

That’s hard to think about as a Christian radio dude, because I want people to know exactly what I’m trying to say. I want them to get it. And I want them to get it now.

I want that for my listeners because it’s what I want for myself. I don’t like uncertainty. I want to figure things out immediately, and I want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m right.

But Jesus is different. He leaves his story hanging in the air.

And he doesn’t just do this in parables. I know I’ve got a few stories in my life that I don’t understand. I’ve got my share of unconnected dots. It’s been a long time since my life looked anything like a completed picture, but because of that, I’ve been leaning on Jesus more. I’ve been asking him for direction more. I’ve been learning more.

Whether in parables or in life, I think when Jesus leaves dots unconnected, he’s inviting us to connect them ourselves. But he knows we can’t do that by ourselves, so he holds the answers close. He knows the best thing for us is to be in pursuit of him. He’s waiting for us to come up to him, probably a little sheepishly, and say “I’m sure there’s something really profound in this story of mine, but I just can’t figure out what it is.”

And I think that’s the point.

Sometimes, when the dots are unconnected, it’s just Jesus inviting us to seek him.

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