Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Salvation Parable

There were two brothers who both had sons. Each man loved his son very, very much. One year, when the two sons came of age, the two fathers decided together that they would both give their sons a brand new car for Christmas. It would take great hard work to pay for such an expensive gift, but each father, with great love for his son, set out to do all that he could do to make the gift possible.

Throughout the year, both fathers worked extra hours to earn enough money. They denied themselves personal pleasure - all for the sake of acquiring the one goal towards which they were working.

Finally, as Christmas neared, each man had put in enough blood, sweat, and tears to earn enough extra cash to buy the brand new car. With great joy and love, the fathers picked out the cars their sons would surely want. When the two boys were not around, they drove the cars into their garages until they would be unveiled Christmas morning.

When Christmas morning came, each father had butterflies. They were so excited about the joy they would surely see on the faces of each of their sons.

Both fathers decided to place the key for the cars into a small box, wrap it in beautiful wrapping paper, and present it to their sons after all the other presents were opened.

Finally, the time arrived. At their respective homes, each father happily plodded to the Christmas tree, retrieved the small box and then handed it to his son.

As the first father handed the small box to his son, unable to contain his excitement, he joyfully explained how exciting the gift was. "You will absolutely love this gift," he exclaimed. "It is going to be the best gift you have ever gotten." He had to exert extra energy to make sure that he didn't spill the beans as to the contents of the gift before his son opened the box.

Without hesitation, and bursting with anticipation, the son ripped apart the wrapping paper, tore open the box, and saw a bright, shiny, silver key lying inside. "Is this what I think it is?" he shouted. "Yes! Yes! It's in the garage!" his father responded.

Before anyone could blink an eye, the son darted out the front door and ran around to the garage. There, in front of him, was the most beautiful car he had ever seen. He quickly jumped into the front seat, shoved the key into the ignition, and peeled out of the driveway while yelling, "I have to go show my cousin my new car!"

Meanwhile, at the second father's house, things were going a little differently. The second father took a different tactical approach. As he handed the small box to his son, he immediately began explaining to him, "Son, I spent a lot of time working overtime to buy you this gift. But you have to remember something: no matter how much I have put into the gift and how it is free, you still have to open the box." Almost bewildered, the son responded, "What do you mean?"

"Well, I did pay for it. I put in a lot of my blood, sweat and tears. But, technically, the gift is not yours until you open it. You have a part to play in this." He continued, "Granted, opening the gift does not mean you are 'earning,' it, but it isn't yours unless you do open it - you know, put in a little effort yourself. You have to take off the wrapping paper, open the box . . . "

The son was clearly confused. He was having a hard time comprehending what his father was trying to convey. He just stood in the middle of the room, box fully wrapped in hand, mouth open, puzzled by the whole scenario.

At that precise moment, his mother, standing near a window, yelled out, "Hey, there's your cousin, driving a brand new car! He must have gotten it for Christmas!"

"Oh, that must mean that he opened the present - just like you are supposed to do, son!" the father called out. "His father gave him a wonderful present too, but he couldn't enjoy it unless he first opened it."

Utterly confused, the young man sat down on the couch that was directly behind him.

He slumped down in the soft cushions and let out a great big sigh.

As his cousin drove around his new, shiny car all around the neighborhood, he just stared blankly at the ceiling.


Anonymous said...

I don't get it!

Dingo said...

This kind of highlights something I wrestle with a lot. There are people who just naturally seem to grasp the truth that grace is free and the gift has already been given to them, but that they need to accept it - to unwrap the package and take possession of the key. They praise God for the pain and blood the gift cost Him and accept its power into their own lives with joy. They get in and drive their car.

But when it comes to explaining God's free salvation to a couple of groups of other people, imagery often fails me.

I just can't seem to find the words or the imagery for those who feel that the need to actually unwrap the gift - to accept it personally and let it become applied to their personal lives - is some kind of "works" that earns salvation. As I try to convey something similar to what the second dad is saying, their looks just get blanker and blanker.

Similarly, those who feel they must earn the gift look blank at the idea that unwrapping the gift is not earning it. The gift is already theirs and taking personal possession of it is a response to being handed the gift, not a prerequisite to receiving the gift.

I felt kind of at a standstill on this, but the parable is encouraging me to start wrestling with the issue of imagery/parables to communicate God’s grace again.

Andy said...

"As I try to convey something similar to what the second dad is saying, their looks just get blanker and blanker."

The second Dad did not have to say all of that. It was unnecessary and as a result, confusing.

All the father had to do was present the gift and convey some sense of how much his sacrifice valuates the relationship.