Photo by NYCArthur
I wish I could spin a yarn like Garrison Keillor, but, alas, I am a concept guy, not a detail guy. Popular author, Donald Miller, recently tweeted, “A good story is more powerful than an army.” Keillor has been spinning his meandering yarns about Lake Wobegon for nearly forty years, and Donald Miller has captured the hearts of a new generation of Christ-followers with his books, Blue Like Jazz, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and others. They both are extraordinary storytellers.
So was Jesus; he told about thirty-seven stories recorded in the Bible. He actually told many more, but these are the ones we call parables, or in today’s terms we’d call them true myths. I always loved The Parable of The Prodigal Son. When I was a preacher, I would put so much detail and pathos in it that my son would remind me it was only a story Jesus told to make a point (probably because my son thought I was thinking about him).
Jesus could keep up with Garrison Keillor; actually, he could outdo Keillor, and yet all of his stories would be loaded with truth. Jesus talked about things people could relate to, such as farming, wine, trees, sheep, baking, work, investing, marriage, and weddings. From the familiar, he would build a bridge to the unfamiliar truth he was teaching.
I mentioned earlier how I used to become mad when I would see someone getting the nods while I was preaching. Immediately, I called their spirituality into question. Then I would begin to talk louder. Christians can be boring, but I am convinced no one ever fell asleep when Jesus was talking because he was so real, so relevant, and so fascinating.
Recently, Erik Guzman, the producer and Vice President of Communications for the Key Life Network, hosted the syndicated radio program, Steve Brown, Etc. in Steve’s absence. Steve Brown, Etc. is Key Life’s way of living out and demonstrating God’s grace. The guest list on the program is diverse, with people representing all sorts of takes on the Christian faith. Steve and Erik amuse me to no end, because you never know what they are going to say on the air. The program is as spontaneous, grace-filled, and edgy as one ever would dare to be on Christian radio. They deliberately push the envelope.
A few months ago, Erik hosted a program about sex. The guest contrasted the biblical perspective of sex being exclusively for marriage between a man and woman with modern day romance stories and pornography, as characterized by the movie Magic Mike and the bestselling novel, Fifty Shades of Gray.
Erik, and his co-hosts Zack and Kathy, did a superb job of asking insightful, honest questions. My buddy Erik also interjected a couple of laugh-out-loud parody commercials.
Because of this program, one station manager commented on the program’s blog, expressing his utter disgust. The station dropped the program. Unfortunately, this station manager reinforced all of the negative stereotypes about Christians; that they are out of-touch, repressive prudes who care more about their own comfort than real people who struggle with real issues.
Jesus kept it real, relevant, and edgy. He also took a lot of heat for his teaching which was often shrouded in stories.
From my soon to be published book, An Irreligious Faith.