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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fairy Tales and the Gospel

In the midst of my prayer strategies, I've been mulling this post for the past few days since I received the call from my mother.

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

During the decades I’ve told others about the gospel of Jesus Christ, I’ve heard the term ‘fairy tale” more than a few times. I just heard it again when my mother called. She’d been sharing Christ with a friend for nearly a month. Even bought her a Bible and underlined Old Testament prophecies about Jesus and their New Testament fulfillments. But mom was frustrated when she called to ask my advice. Her friend told her, “It sounds like the fairy tales I grew up hearing.”

I understand Mom’s frustration. When something is so clear to one person, but veiled to another, it’s easy for the one who sees to become frustrated with the one who doesn’t. On the other hand, I also understand her friend’s skepticism. It can seem far-fetched that the holy and almighty King and Creator of the universe would even trouble Himself to rise from His throne on our behalf, much less stoop and lift us into His arms. Even more so, it could certainly seem a fairy tale that, after we returned His affection by spitting in His face (so to speak) – that this most-sacred, transcendent God would nonetheless sacrifice His Son to the penalty our sins deserved, so we – you and I, and anyone who asks – might be completely forgiven, and made righteous in His eyes.

Yes, I understand how some might think that a fairy tale.

But what some think false is for me the substance of unchangeable truth. It is the bedrock reality in which I live and – I pray – for which I would even die. So my advice to Mom? “God permits some of us to plant seeds, and others to water. But only God can give life to the seed.  Let her know you are here to answer her questions. And pray that she will one day see through eyes of faith the astonishing truth of what she now calls a fairy tale.”


Anonymous said...

Thank you for not super spiritualizing or ignoring that many people, including me sometimes, wonder how this wonderful salvation plan makes sense. I am concerned that sometimes it "seems foolishness" to me, too, but I am a Christian. When those doubts come, I return to "God is God, and I am not, and He can do things however He wants. I don't understand, and I won't understand, because if I did, He would not be God".

Richard Maffeo said...

I think I know what you mean about doubts sometimes. I have my moments as well. But, like you, I return to the center and remind myself, God is God, and I am not. Thanks for commenting.

Psmith said...

I've grown up hearing fairy tales and I understand why someone might compare them to the gospel, but I think that it should be the other way around. Fairy tales can help us because "if we don't tell strange stories, when something strange happens we won't believe it." ("The Goose Girl" by Shannon Hale).

Richard Maffeo said...

Thanks for the comment, PSmith. One of the things I am slowly learning, after all these years walking with Jesus, is there is a great deal of "mystery" about our Christian faith. That's a good thing to remember. St. Augustine properly opined: “If it can be understood, it is not God.” And St. Thomas Aquinas correctly noted: “Concerning God, we cannot grasp what he is, but only what he is not. Whatever can be understood or thought of is less than God.”

And thus, they wonderful idea of the mystery of our faith.