Something God Never Intended For You ...

I am just finishing the book, The Power of Communication by Helio Fred Garcia. Garcia has opened my eyes to the power of metaphor. A metaphor is a "word that stands in for something much broader than its literal meaning." [1]

Garcia notes that "we live our lives in metaphor but are generally unaware of the metaphors we live by." For instance, we all know that when we hear, "The White House today announced . . ." it does not mean that the White House talked. The White House is a metaphor for the Administration of the President of the United States.[2]

I think God used Garcia's work to trigger a closer look at the Scriptures. Most every day for the last week I have read 1 Peter. Peter makes heavy use of metaphors. But there is something very interesting in his metaphorical use. I'd like you to see if you can spot it.

Take a look at some of the metaphors Peter uses to describe the Christians scattered around modern-day Turkey. They share something in common. In that "something" there is a profound lesson from God:

  • "elect exiles" 1 Peter 1:1; 2:11
  • "obedient children" 1 Peter 1:14; 3:6
  • "newborn infants" 1 Peter 2:1
  • "living stones being built up as a spiritual house" 1 Peter 2:5
  • "a holy priesthood" 1 Peter 2:5,9
  • "a holy nation" 1 Peter 2:9
  • "sojourners" 1 Peter 2:11
  • "servants of God" 1 Peter 2:16
  • "brotherhood" 1 Peter 2:17; 5:9
  • "sheep" 1 Peter 2:25
  • "good stewards" 1 Peter 4:10
  • "household of God" 1 Peter 4:17
  • "flock of God" 1 Peter 5:1,3

What is it that all these metaphors share? They are plural.

Please . . . don't yawn! This is very significant. Peter always addresses the church as a group. This means that we need each other. This means that there are no Lone Rangers in the church.

As a person who craves solitude, I need this reminder again and again. As a person who lives in the United States---the individualistic capital of the world---I also need to be reminded that the commitment to the community of faith trumps the individualistic leaning of my culture.

Not quite convinced that our cultural waters are colored with the dye of individualism? Just think . . . gated communities, white ear buds, personal computers, private offices, and today's advertisements:

  • "Have it your way"
  • "Be all that you can be"
  • "Do you, Yahoo?!
  • "Obey your thirst"
  • "Put a tiger in your tank"
  • "We love to see you smile"
  • "You deserve a break today"
  • "You're in good hands with Allstate"
  • "Because you're worth it"
  • "Can you hear me now?"

In a country where every individual is enthroned over his or her personal kingdom, we can quickly lose sight of what it means to be the church. The church becomes something we "go to," a service provider responsible to cater to our individualistic wants and wishes.   

Hey, I'm not downplaying the individual. God values the individual, but God never intended for individualism to trump Christian community.  

Church is not something you "go to" just to have your spiritual needs met. The church is a Jesus-centered family of faith making a name for the King of kings and Lord of lords in a local community and around the world. You are a part of that holy priesthood, that brotherhood, that spiritual house, that flock of God. At least you should be . . . .   

God never intended for you to walk alone. And while the church can extend a hand, YOU must grasp it. Are there any signs that individualism is crowding out your involvement in the household of God?


Don't Ask The Fish?

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[1] Helio Fred Garcia. The Power of Communication. FT Press. 2012. Page 187.

[2] Garcia, The Power of Communication. Page 189.