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Today Jesus tell 'Parable of the Ford F-150'


If Jesus were preaching today, his parables might well rely on topics like the Superbowl, hazmat suits and frogs as an indicator species—or maybe a Ford F-150 pickup.

Why? Because he was a master teacher, who used pictures and stories that connected immediately and powerfully with his listeners. His parables about the good Samaritan and the prodigal son still capture our imagination today.

His parables drew on agricultural imagery, social events like weddings and banquets and masters and servants—all concepts close to people's ordinary lives.

Good preachers today do the same thing: sharing analogies that help convey theological truths, but in our quest for expanding our theological knowledge and inspiration, we needn't limit ourselves to what our pastors and priests, rabbis and imams come up with. They have no monopoly on creative insights into our respective faith traditions.

It doesn't take much to look around for spiritual lessons. Take, for example, the idea of the fridge door, which may well be decorated with photos of children, grandchildren or other loved ones. I believe that God cares so much about each of us that God would do the same with our photos: They're pasted all over God's fridge.

Jesus' listeners were smart enough not to take him literally. For example, when he spoke about taking the plank out of your own eye before helping someone with a speck in his. So, too, with the fridge analogy. Of course, we know that God doesn't need a fridge because nothing can spoil in heaven, but the point of this modern analogy is God's care for each of us.

Think how many more ideas Jesus could draw upon today. From the world of science, for example, there's the idea of entropy. That is the concept that in the long run everything either breaks or runs down. Compare that with the opposite, negentropy: the idea that in the long run, everything comes together—not a bad image to help us envision how God's will and purposes will ultimately prevail.

What spiritual lessons, encouragement or comfort can we draw from concepts like the pilot light in gas fireplaces and the drug Pitocin to speed up labor in expectant moms? Do we dare try to  hasten God's activity in our lives by saying, "I've waited long enough, God, please hurry up and show me what you want me to know or do?"

These potential parables and analogies are all around us. So, when I'm opening my fridge door, I often think of God's love for all of us.

In Your Photo on God's Fridge Door, I compiled 101 devotional reflections, from a Christian perspective, using analogies and parables I think Jesus might draw upon today.

As we enter 2024, consider this exercise: Once a week, we might look around the familiar settings we encounter in a new way: our home, workplace or favorite coffee shop. Then we might ask, "What simple lesson might Jesus have drawn from what I see in front of me?"

Who knows what parables or other teachings God might share with us today?

One of these might very well begin, "There was a man whose neighbor bought a Ford F-150 pickup…."


Gordon Jackson, who worked in South Africa as a journalist, taught journalism at Whitworth University in Spokane for 32 years before retiring in 2015.

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, January 2024