A Modern Day Parable on Faith
“To what can I compare faith?” Jesus began to the crowd sipping their lattes outside Starbucks. “Faith is continuing to make the sponsorship payments for your Compassion child, even after taking a pay cut at work. Faith is staying in your marriage, even when it seems like things will never improve, because you trust that in the long run God will bless you, and your marriage, for sticking it out. Faith is being sure you knew my Father’s will, then seeing things go completely different then you had hoped and still saying, I trust in your plan and purpose Lord. Faith is accepting a new position knowing it will be a significantly smaller salary than your current position, because you truly believe in the mission of the new company.”
With that, a man in a tailored suit sipping a $5 Carmel Macchiato quietly slipped into his BMW and headed off to the job as a Power Broker that he loathed. Jesus went on, “How can I make you understand faith? It is like a man who had to drive through a depressed part of town on the way to work each day. Each day he drove by a man holding a sign saying, Down & out on my luck. Will work for food. The man on his way to work judged the one holding the sign. In fact, he would take an alternative route some days that took longer, just so he did not have to see the man. But as time went on, a feeling formed in the pit of his stomach that he could not ignore whenever he went by the raggedy man. Until one day when he was leaving his house for work, the man made a ham and cheese sand which. And when he came to the man holding the sign, he rolled down his window and handed it to him. And his faith grew.
He continued with the sandwhiches out the window for several weeks. Until that feeling consumed him again. And he looked up at our Father and asked, “Are you kidding me?” This time the man left for work 20 minutes early and when he came to the man holding the sign, he parked his car. He got out and asked if it was okay if they ate a sandwhich together this morning. The two men ate together. No longer did he pity the man who held the sign, but he loved him. And his faith grew”
The crown had begun to thin, but Jesus was apparently not taking the social cues too well and continued, “No God,” the man said driving into work that day. “Nope. Don’t know him that well. Not sticking my neck out for him. No, Lord, no way.” Yet he found himself at his boss’ desk that day. And he heard the boss telling him, “You don’t even have to bring him in for an interview. It’s just a cleaning position. If you recommend the guy, he can start Monday.” And his faith grew.
“No longer does the man ride alone to work. But each day he rides with the man who used to hold the sign.”
Jesus looked out at the thinning crowd and new that some of their hearts were still hard. “I tell you the truth faith that is not tested will wither and die like a flower that receives no rain. If your faith does not force you beyond yourself, you have no faith at all.”
A woman in the crowd holding her baby and thinking of all of the safety issues with actually having a homeless person in her car spoke up. “But Jesus, each person’s faith is a little different. Your story is very touching, but you don’t expect everyone to have faith like that…do you?”
Jesus looked upon the woman with love. For he knew how she loved her baby with a beautiful and selfless love. But, that she had justified not being stretched in her faith because she put her child before God. He began to speak, “There was a Nazarene church headed by a pastor who longed to do more than preach practical application sermons to the regular attendees before taking his scheduled Sunday afternoon nap. Stepping out on faith he went before his board with a plan to do more. With much coercing, he convinced his board to approve the purchase of a small abandoned building right next to the church property. The building would be turned into a community center to hold evening activities for the youth who were turning more and more to delinquent behaviors.
With the building purchased, the Pastor now needed someone who could see his vision and get the program rolling. He knew the perfect person. A member of his church board was in a high-level management position. He was amazing with planning and organization. He tithed 25% of his large salary to the church. He and the pastor went and walked through the newly purchased building one evening and talked of his heading up the programming for the youth. He replied to the pastor, “I would love to, but I often hold evening meetings at work. And besides, with my knowledge of running an organization, there are far too many unanswered questions at this point as to how this program will actually work to think it will get up and off the ground. I just couldn’t even think of taking this on without there being a more solid foundation.”
The pastor was not discouraged. He had another amazing choice in mind. She was currently a stay-at-home mom, but had been a middle and high school teacher and a principal before having kids. She would bring an amazing knowledge of how to interact with the youth. As the woman and the pastor walked through the building the pastor told her, “I know you have your hands full with a preschooler and a toddler at home. But, since it is in the evening I thought your husband might stay home with the kids or you can even bring them here! Start them early serving others.” She answered with a chuckle, “Oh Bill could never handle the kids on his own. He can hardly take care of himself.” Then, she became much more serious, “And I could never bring my kids around ‘those kids’ who would come here in the evenings.”
The pastor had been sure that one of his top two choices would accept and was doing his best not to become discouraged. That evening he sat in his office trying to think of a third choice when he heard a knock. A woman walked in who lived in the community and had recently begun attending the church after coming to receive a free backpack for her oldest of 3 children (all by different fathers who were long gone by now). “Pastor, “ she began. “I know I’m new to the church. But I heard about the community center and that you needed someone to head it up and I wanted to volunteer. I don’t really have no experience except that I grew up in this community and am raising my 3 kids here. So, I get were the kids around here are coming from and I know they just need someone to love on them and to learn how much the Lord loves them. Just like I needed. I will have to stop my evening hours at the restaurant and bring my own 3 with me, but like you always say if we doing God’s will He will provide what we need.” The Pastor wiped away a tear and smiled at his knew community center leader.
Jesus turned to the woman holding her baby, “Which of the 3 showed faith?”
“The one who was willing to lead the programming at the community center,” she answered.
“Go and do likewise,” Jesus responded.
Of those left, a few walked away sad for they had many important things planned that they could not lay aside. But, as Jesus walked away past the Nail Salon and Smoothie King, he turned to see a small crowd still following him.