The Indiscriminate Parable

Once upon a time there was a man who was given a very important job by his father. “Love,” his father told him, “and do as you will.” The instructions were simple, perhaps too simple. The man thought for a very long time about the task his father had given him. And then he thought some more.

Finally the man began to do. First he made a list. “Surely,” he said to himself, “my father doesn’t want me to love everyone. Some people don’t deserve to be loved and some don’t want to be loved.” And so the man walked through the world compiling a list of all the people he was sure he did not need to love.

Next the man made another list. “Not only would my father not want me to love some people, he would obviously want me to hate some people. He wouldn’t want me to love people who hated him or who opposed the things he stands for.” And so the man, in his wisdom, made another list. An even longer list than the first. He included people who did bad things, people who hurt other people, people who campaigned against his father and said terrible things about his father. On his list he put people who did things his father said his children wouldn’t do and some people who just made the man feel uncomfortable to be around them.

Finally the man made a third list. “Of course my father wouldn’t want me to include those who can’t appreciate love.” And so he compiled a list that included the mentally ill, the mentally handicapped, the people with Alzheimer’s, people who owned cats and people who watch public broadcasting and reality shows.

And the man was proud of himself.

No one would ever be able to accuse the man of wasting the love his father had given to him. In fact, when he was done his list was surprisingly short. And so he did as his father told him, exactly what his father had told him. And he loved the 3 people on his list well. Very well.

One day his father asked him how the loving was going.

“Father,” he said with a big smile, “You would be so proud of me! If you like I can bring all 3 people in and you can ask them yourself!”

“3 people?” Asked his father. “But there are billions in the world and there must even be hundreds in your own little world. What about everyone else?”

“Well, I know the kind of man you are and I know the kind of people you hate and those who hate you. I knew you wouldn’t want me to love all those people. That would be like betraying you! And there are hateful people out there who don’t deserve love and…”

His father held up his hand to stop him. “Son, I only ever said, ‘Love’. What I meant was ‘Love’. I wanted to make it as clear as possible by saying ‘Love’ that I meant All. I gave you the simple instruction I did so that you’d never be faced with a person and have to wonder if this person was who you were meant to love. If the sunshine can land on them or the rain can fall on them or gravity can hold them, those are the people I want you to love.”

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church, discipleship, faith, God, love, Once upon a time, Reflective. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Indiscriminate Parable

  1. Michelle says:

    “No one would ever be able to accuse the man of wasting the love his father had given to him.”

    We’re called to love wastefully. I love that. (But sometimes it hurts.)

  2. J says:

    This is one time I disagree with your “parable” somewhat. Yes, we are called to love our enemies and pray for them. We are definitely NOT called to fellowship with those who “hate” Christ; in ANY way. Many, mnay Scriptures support this; and Jesus Himself had much to say to both regular “folks” as well as the religious leaders of His own culture on the subject.

    “Lie down with dogs, expect to get up with fleas”, Brian. Blessings

    • brianmpei says:

      J, you’re welcome to disagree!

      The parable is actually a quotation from Jesus’ “sermon on the mount”. Jesus taught his disciples to love the Romans who oppressed them, desecrated their holy things and worshiped other gods. “Fellowship” and love seem to be, at least the way you must be using it, mutually exclusive terms in Jesus’ lexicon.

  3. J says:

    Agreed my friend; you are correct in your assumption of my meaning. I always appreciate the thought provoking…and the dialog. The terms “fellowship” and “love” are also mutually exclusive terms in my lexicon.

  4. greggmac says:

    I am completely at a loss as to how you can possibly love someone and not have fellowship with them. I think I will keep on hanging out with the sinners and publicans while I ponder this.

    • J says:

      What Scriptures Are In the Bible Concerning These Things?

      Let me divide the scriptures to show how some support the acquaintance friendship, while others tell us to avoid certain close friendships.

      Yes, Scriptures that Show we Should Be Acquaintance Friends with People:

      “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” Luke 6:27 ESV

      And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth… 2 Timothy 2:24–26 (NIV)

      In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

      The second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:31

      These scriptures above clearly show that we are to be kind, loving, and “friends” to all people. We should love everyone as our self. Our neighbors are our friends, and we should love and respect all.

      But again, at the same time we must make a distinction between the different types of friends. Should a Christian be hanging out constantly with a person who is not very Godly? Let us see what the scriptures say about this:

      Scriptures that Show We Should Distance Ourselves from Inappropriate Friendships or People Who Reject God’s Will:

      Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3
      Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV)
      Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)
      But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
      Not only are those scriptures crystal clear, but look at what Jesus himself says regarding an unrepentant brother:
      “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

      “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will bed bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will bee loosed in heaven. Matthew 18:15-19

      That’s right folks, you have it from Jesus’ own lips. What more scriptures do you need? In the scriptures above, it is very clear that we are to NOT have the very close types of relationships with those who have NO interest in God’s will. This isn’t my instruction either, it is the scriptures’ instructions.

      When we develop close relationships with those who reject God, we risk being influenced in a negative way. We risk being associated with certain ideology or beliefs that the other person may have.

      • brianmpei says:

        Hmmm. Where you are seeing crystal I see through a glass darkly. I think we could have some fun together in our Blue Parakeet group!

        Jesus had table fellowship with all kinds of “bad company”. The use of a proverb indicates something that is often true, generally true but is not always true.

        “Yoked together” has specific meaning and the context of Paul’s words to the Corinthians has to be considered. Paul turns up at Athens and the first place he goes to share Jesus is at the pagan temple. He also tells Christian women that if their pagan husbands want to stay married to them then they should – which is pretty yoked! So context and the overall teaching of scripture has to be observed to properly apply what Paul says.

        Jews in the time of Jesus had developed a theology of hating those who weren’t Israel. Jesus had to explain that was not God’s way and it wasn’t how his followers were to live.

        Again, in 2 Timothy it’s about context. There are some people who live on an extreme hateful edge and Paul is talking about not quarreling with people living there, don’t engage in the dispute. That’s entirely different than my next door neighbours who are Buddhists or Atheists.

        And how did Jesus treat the tax collectors or pagans? He ate with them, invited himself over to their houses, called them to be his disciple, revealed God to them. Maybe that’s what he meant?

        It’s interesting to me that those scriptures seem so clear to you and yet seem, to me, to take a great deal of application to say what you would like for them to say.

        Good dialog! Thanks for the push back!

  5. J says:

    For greggmac, I just wanted to clarify as best I can, that I am not talking about fellowshipping with the “never saved” or those who simply do not share my beliefs,but are open to the idea of a relationship with God . I am talking about fellowship with those who openly scoff at God, or those who have claimed to be “saved” and then have turned openly from it.
    I simply believe as outlined above, that it is not profitable in any way to “hang or agree” with these folks.

    I am certainly not suggesting to have an arrogant or “I am better than you” type of attitude. This is not about being “holier than thou.” Instead, this is merely about following what the scriptures tell us. Don’t we have an obligation to follow the scriptures? Yes indeed.

    Didn’t Jesus hang with sinners? Sure, but notice something: Jesus only hung with them to share the Gospel. Jesus viewed himself as a doctor trying to heal a “sick” person. He certainly didn’t hang with sinners for the thrill or exposure of sin, or because they had similar interests. He hung with them to try and save them.

    Also notice another point: Jesus hung with them long enough to be friendly and share the gospel, and then moved on to other people and other areas. In other words, Jesus wasn’t BFFs (best friends forever) with people who rejected God’s will. In fact, Jesus even says he won’t know these people. He says they won’t inherit the Kingdom of God.

    We are certainly all sinners aren’t we? But isn’t there a difference between committing a sin and repenting (and feeling terrible), and committing a sin and enjoying it (with no intentions of repenting)? There is a world of difference between those two. In fact, you might say that that is the difference between a Christian and non-Christian.

    Both are sinners, yet one turns from sin and feels terrible. The other enjoys sin and does not seek to correct the sin or remove it. As the famous bumper sticker says, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.”

    I hope these posts are both repectful, and thought provoking…J

    • brianmpei says:

      Thanks J. I have to disagree with your premise here. I think you’re arguing backwards from your pre-suppositions and back into the text. Which is what we tend to do.

      I don’t think the text itself supports your assertion about Jesus’ intent in spending time with people. In fact I think the text actually presents a Jesus who invests himself in people without an agenda (with exceptions). While he may not have been BFF’s he had a crowd that followed him and grew as they went along. Eventually this crowd left him at the cross except for the women and John. And the women didn’t even make the cut for ‘apostles’! Imagine!

      The accusation of the the religious establishment was that he hung out with sinners, the riff raff and even had table fellowship with them. He let a woman wash his feet with her tears and hair despite the kind of woman she was. He let Judas keep track of the money that was given to the cause even though he and the other disciples knew that Judas was embezzling funds. Judas had fellowship with Jesus for 3 years and didn’t seem to make a ‘decision for Jesus’ during or at the end of that time.

      I’m not sure where the argument about sin comes in here. We all sin and sin for the pleasure of it with no intent to repent as we do it. How could we? What value would repentance be if we planned to repent whilst we sinned? I still sin today and I will sin for the pleasure of it because I think some temporary thing will give me greater pleasure than the love of God can provide for me. I will be wrong. I hope to change my mind or have it changed by God after that sin but my relationship with God is not based on whether or not I sin. It is based on his patience and mercy with me as I walk this out one day at a time. Thankfully his Spirit doesn’t come and go based on my behavior but rather abides by his grace. If my wife can love me this way, I’m certain my Father can.

      Again, thanks for being provoking!

      • BMac says:

        “In fact I think the text actually presents a Jesus who invests himself in people without an agenda (with exceptions). ” I see Jesus as continually having an agenda; he never idled. A major part of his agenda was to change the agendas of those he encountered. He loved them beyond the in-the-moment being ‘nice’. ‘Nice’ is in the lower orders of His love. When Jesus was with sinners and publicans, there was no doubt as to whose work He was about. He wasn’t softening them up for a big conversion moment at a later date. Every moment was a conversion moment. I doubt Jesus was hanging out with these people because he enjoyed it; I rather think His heart was deeply grieved during those times.

        Love the discussion. It’s always interesting hearing reasoned arguments on a topic.

  6. j says:

    As to the woman who washed Jesus’ feet it was certainly out of love for Him, the text does support that. As to Judas’ actions, I would have to surmise that Jesus both knew of the ongoing sin of Judas and the later part Judas was to play in setting Jesus up for the Cross, the text of the last supper account supports that. As to the question of sin, yes we all sin without the intent at the moment to repent, yet the separating “crux” of the matter is that through the Holy Spirit, we are brought to conviction, at least those of us truly “saved”; and I believe, because of that, we WILL eventually be repentant as well. Those not saved, don’t ever get to the “repentant” part, they just keep on sinning without remorse. I know my wife would not continue to “love” me if I were like that. I cannot speak for others.

    Ping-pong…..

  7. greggmac says:

    I believe that I am continually being “saved” and that keeps me from feeling that I have somehow made it or belong to some exclusive fellowship. It also makes it harder for me to believe I am “right”. While it is much more comfortable to live in “certainty” I find it less useful to others who simply don’t care how much I know until they see how much I care. I know and count among my best friends many the “church” may not approve of and I do know that they are not so far from the church as the church is far from them. That is in large part due to the afore mentioned theology.

    • brianmpei says:

      I think that’s a critical insight Gmac…macdaddy…

      There’s a world out there much closer to the Kingdom than the Church believes and/or wants them to believe.

  8. brianmpei says:

    Bmac,
    Thanks for joining the discussion. I suppose it also comes down to our definition of “agenda”. I agree that Jesus clearly operated on an agenda but I might disagree with your definition. “I only do what I see my Father doing…” is sort of an agenda-less agenda. I might also disagree that he was always “on”. There is very little told of 3.5 years of ministry life. It’s fair to think that was a chunk of time hanging out with family, friends, telling jokes and stories, eating meals, helping fish, etc. The text cannot account for much, even with foot travel, of that 3.5 years.

    And I think, from the text, it would be hard to demonstrate that Jesus wasn’t having a good time when he hung out with the scum of the earth. People tend to pick up on cues like, “he was deeply grieved” – which is why the gospel writers note it when it happens – because it stands in contrast to the rest. And people tend not to like hanging out with people who are “deeply grieved” be their presence and people, from the text, loved to be with Jesus.

    And finally, I don’t think we can call a relationship “love” if it comes with an agenda. Jesus didn’t only love those he knew would choose him, rather he loves indiscriminately and calls us to do the same. He chose love, others chose their response to that love. If I’m loving you because I want you to do something for me or even just to get you to do something, I’m no longer loving, I’m manipulating you. Like the Christians who invite people to church and become “friends” with pagans and then as soon as they pray “the prayer” they drop them and move on to some new “friends”.

    But that’s how I see love. It’s not that God doesn’t will for all men to be saved but he doesn’t love us to get us to make a decision for him. He just loves ’cause that’s what he is!

    And I’m loving the discussion as well!

  9. Marion says:

    Hmmmm, I try to be good and kind to everyone I meet…..sometimes I come across a person who I have a hard time being nice to. Not often, but it has happened. I don’t remember in my lifetime that I ever treated someone differently because they had a different belief system then I did. I have a close family member who does not believe in God, rather likes the monkey theory…I have another family member who grew up loving Jesus with his whole heart and soul, and then some of the ‘Christians’ around him betrayed him in the worst possible way, now he has no faith (I pray everyday it is still there and will overcome his doubt and pain), another person whom I loved dearly one day told me that he was heavily involved in witchcraft, then commited suicide because his demons were to much to bear…….
    All of these people have held an important place in my heart and still do…along with many other christians and non christians……I have always believed that when I was taught at a very young age to love, it was meant more to treat people with kindness and respect, not to love them as I love my son, fiance or family. I do not need to be BFF’s with everyone to show what love is…..I just need to treat people the way I expect them to treat me.
    Am I perfect…nope, not even close….have I hurt people, yes, and I have apologised to the person I hurt……do I hate anyone, yes I do….and I know that hate is a strong word, but I struggle everyday with working on my issues so that I can forgive these people (there are only 3) for what they have done……but as I believe Jesus has asked of us a simple thing, showing LOVE in this world really isn’t all that hard (sometimes a smile and a hello can make a world of difference to a stranger having a bad day)….:):)

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