A Parable

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A certain Dreamer woke from a restless sleep of strange and uncomfortable visions. The visions were an odd assortment of images and scenes that seemed like lives lived by other people but through the Dreamer. Only one thing seemed to make any sense. As the man awoke, he saw a vision of light and heard these words, “Live the gospel.” While he wasn’t sure exactly what to do, he felt he must do something to heed the words of his vision.

As he began to wonder about the gospel and how to live it, he remembered several people, acquaintances really, who called themselves or were called by other people believers or followers of Jesus. While the man did not himself know how he might live out the gospel, perhaps one his acquaintances would. Making his mind up to answer the call in his vision, the Dreamer sought out the first of these people to learn from.

The first person was a righteous man. The righteous man greeted the Dreamer warmly and asked what he could do to help. The Dreamer told him of the vision and explained his desire to answer the vision’s call. The righteous man was overjoyed! He began to show the Dreamer many things from the bible and encouraged the Dreamer to learn the words by heart. The Dreamer was taught by the righteous man—on God’s behalf of course—that only by memorizing the words, knowing the rules, and believing the right ideas could he ever know the gospel. The Dreamer also had to learn that anyone who disagreed with the righteous man or his ideas was a heretic, an agnostic, an atheist, an apostate, and many other words that separated the righteous man from other ‘lesser’ believers.

The Dreamer felt something was wrong but did not know how to express this to the righteous man without loosing their friendship. One night as he slept, the man had another vision of the light and once more, it spoke to him.  “Seek the gospel.” The next day he told the righteous man about his vision and the man was insulted. Obviously, the Dreamer wasn’t listening to him because he had been telling him what the gospel was. The Dreamer was resisting the Spirit and the truth and not listening to what he had been taught. As he told the Dreamer the words, the Spirit spoke again to the Dreamer, “Seek the gospel.” With that he left the righteous man to his indignation.

The second person the Dreamer went to see was the scholar. The scholar listened to the Dreamer and when the story was told, the scholar went to his bookshelf and began getting materials together. He began explaining to the Dreamer that the key to the gospel was being able to properly define it in its time and its context. After all, if you can’t define the gospel by using the traditions, histories, creeds, and other interpretations, you can’t really know it. You will forever be talking about a thing you do not understand. The Dreamer read through book after book, one explanation after another, relating the history, nature of, power of the gospel to the point that he felt he was drowning in the information. As the scholar lectured, the Dreamer heard a familiar voice in his mind speak into his soul, “Seek the gospel.” Quietly, as the scholar wrote ancient words and quotes on a blackboard, the Dreamer slipped out of the classroom to continue his search.

Dejected, the Dreamer found himself wandering through the busy streets of town. All around there was the buzz of activity as business hawked their wares and restaurants sent the aroma of good food into the air. Near a coffee shop, the Dreamer saw a man sitting against the outside wall near the door. He was obviously homeless, a beggar trying to survive from one day to the next. A voice spoke to his heart and said, “Watch,” as a woman stepped out of the coffee shop. She walked up to the beggar and handed him a sandwich and a cup of coffee along with a small bag of food for later, She sat down next to him on the sidewalk and talked for a few minutes before leaning over to give him a hug and walking down the street. Intrigued, the Dreamer followed, and they walked to a thrift store. Inside, she changed into a smock and began sorting clothes into piles to be washed, picking her way through dirty, discarded garments and getting them ready to wash. When the clothes were sorted, she walked to the front of the store where she talked with a few of the customers inside, even paying for a few extra things for those who could not afford them.

Finally, the woman left and walked down the street to a hospice care home at the end of the road. The Dreamer walked in a stood just out of sight as the woman went to a cupboard and brought out a tea set for a group of ladies seated around a table. She mad tea and got out cookies to snack on as they sat and enjoyed their tea. When the tea was finished, the woman took out a book and began reading to the ladies. In all this, the woman was bringing warmth to their final days and moments in this life.

The voice rose up inside the Dreamer’s mind and heart and said, “This is gospel. The good news is not a thing to be believed but to be lived. Go and do likewise.”

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