Metaphorically Speaking

Mike —  November 9, 2006 — Leave a comment

On a Christian radio station this morning, I heard a lady talking about how a certain artist was going to be on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. In one breath she was both excited at the credibility factor of his being featured on the pop culture show – and appalled at the show itself. “Be sure to tune in to watch so and so play, but make sure you don’t watch any of the other stuff on the show – it’s garbage.” (That’s not a literal quote, but it is a good summary of what was said.)

It reminded me of a line from a recent article I received in an e-mail yesterday. It’s from The Journal of Student Ministries, which has a lot of other interesting articles you may like to check out, too. The author says, “I believe it’s time to admit that the church has lost its positional status with earthly powers (i.e. governments and political parties) and confess that we’ve craved endorsements from the wrong authorities.”

This statement was made in the context of a larger discussion of the use of the ‘war metaphor’ in youth ministry. We need to remember that, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood…” but we are in a spiritual battle. But (think great big BUT there), does that mean we have to use the war metaphor all the time in youth ministry? I’ve never really felt comfortable talking about battle cries and winning souls and taking ground and conquering foes… maybe there was a time when that metaphor was useful, but I’m not sure that time is now.

Now, I know that some of that language is used in Scripture, but it’s also very focused in Scripture. Jesus is fighting Satan (and as His followers, we join him in fighting Satan). Not ‘the world’. Not Hollywood. Not youth culture. In the world as it is today, I wonder if we’d do better using other metaphors, that are just as Biblical, when we talk about the church in relationship to the world. Surely we can find metaphors that speak more truthfully of Christ and His Church to this generation… Bride, Family, Body, Salt, Light…

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