Conventional wisdom is a good thing. It often provides a quick rule of thumb when making decisions or assessing situations. For instance, should you get married next weekend to the person you fell head over heels for last weekend? “Fools rush in,” we might say. Or should you leave your company for the competitor, which seems to be so much healthier? “The grass is always greener on the other side,” someone might quip. Conventional wisdom: it’s helpful.
But it also has its limitations. That other company might genuinely be better, and—who knows?—perhaps that love-at-first-sight is all its cracked up to be. Conventional wisdom is a good thing, but sometimes we need to set it aside. Especially when it comes to the things of God.
This, I’m convinced, is part of the reason that Jesus tells the stories that we call “parables.” These parables of our Lord often have a startling angle or unexpected outcome: the last are first, the sleazy are commended, and God gets compared to a crooked judge. These aren’t the sort of lessons we would expect from any good story—much less one in the Bible!
There’s a reason for all this. Jesus isn’t just teaching lessons or telling stories; He’s revealing the kingdom of God. In and through His life, death, and resurrection, He is bringing God’s reign to bear on a world in flight from Him. The parables are a way for Jesus to upset the equilibrium, to rattle our cages, to bring smelling salts to our sleepwalking souls.
To do this, the Lord will utter some unconventional wisdom. These parables, with all their unlikely twists, turn the conventional variety on its head.
This coming Sunday is the beginning of the Trinity season, which extends all the way until the end of the Church Year in November. The first three Sundays of the Trinity season feature a few of our Lord’s most memorable parables:
- the Rich Man & Lazarus (Luke 16.19-31, Trinity 1)
- the Great Banquet (Luke 14.15-24, Trinity 2)
- the Prodigal Son (Luke 15.11-32, Trinity 3).
These three parables provide a quick primer on the unconventional wisdom of the kingdom of God. Join us the next three weeks and find out how some of the world’s assumptions about the way life works get flipped upside down by Christ Jesus.