The message I heard was important enough, that most of it I listened to as I lay dreaming moments ago. I'm not even sure which pastor preached it, but it hit me the same. He had a very simple point.
Parables were only taught by Jesus. Why did Jesus use parables? To fulfill prophecy. What prophecy is there that required the Messiah to tell stories, you ask? The same one Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel heard at the beginning of their calling: That they would preach the message, and a hard hearted people WOULD NOT HEAR. Jesus was bound thus to tell the masses of salvation in parables, explaining ONLY to His disciples. And what were parables? Parables were only stories about judgement- whether yours was to be a good judgement or bad. As the preacher explained, look at the simplest of parables, the pearl of great price. An unbeliever hearing that story would say, "Okay, a guy found a valuable gem, and spent all his money on it. So what?" A believer sees it for what it is: "To obtain salvation, we must be willing to give up all".
But we are not so bound. Another commonality of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel was that they were to preach, not tell stories. Tell the truth, the whole truth- and expect that most, if not all, who hear you WILL NOT LISTEN. When we received the Great Commision, we were given a similar task. But as we were sent to the Gentiles, we had a bit more chance of success, as Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations. He didn't say we WOULD be universally successful, though. So somewhere between cannot hear and can hear are the people we are sent to. Can we tell who's who? Not without the attempt, right? Romans 10:14- "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?"
As I considered, though, I realized the third commonality between Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel: the opening excuse. "I am undone! I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips!" Isaiah contended. Jeremiah protested, "I am but a youth." Ezekiel merely realized his unworthiness and fell on his face.
And God replied by removing the unworthiness and giving them the words.
He has given us the words. Everything we need to say hangs on just three passages- John 3:16, Romans 10:9, and Ephesians 2:8-9. Verses so simple that even a veteran non-memorizer like me has them down. Their message is simple:
God loves us so much, He sent His Son to die for us.
If we believe- and aren't afraid to show the world we believe- we are part of that salvation.
And that salvation isn't anything we do deserve, or even can deserve- it is a gift, if we are willing to accept it.
As the preacher I listened to in my half-dream said, unlike the peoples of the past who had but parables to go by, we have the Completed Word at our fingertips. And our voice should be our lives, our direct AND our indirect, what we say AND what we do. Everything that Jesus wants us to say should be an intricate part of our lives.
Now those of us who believe, we all have different callings. But within that calling, we should be preaching- directly or indirectly- that same Gospel.
So here's the question that came to me and I give to you:
Are you the Gospel- or are you a parable?
When you "preach" the Word through your life, can people understand it, or are they still safely blinded by the way you tell it?