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The Language of the Kingdom of God

I think often about languages. Most of the languages I think about are formal ones. (I work on these as a member of the compiler team at Microsoft.) Back in High School, I spent a couple of years trying to learn Spanish. At first, everything we learned was in terms of English. We used an English-to-Spanish dictionary to construct our sentences. I realized at one point that this practice would never make me fluent. To achieve fluency, I would have to think in Spanish. I would have to think of Spanish concepts in terms of other Spanish concepts. I never reached this goal.

I think Jesus’ parables work like the language of the kingdom of God. At first, we have difficulty understanding them. We translate the parables into something which makes more sense to us. But this can only go so far and even the best of analogies eventually break down. It’s hard to base difficult choices on analogies. In my own experience, I find myself starting to speak the language of parables. I, like Jesus often did, find it easiest to explain a parable in terms of a concept explained by another parable.

I know this is dangerous as it can easily separate me from others. People will say, “That Grant makes no sense. He speaks in riddles or something.” But that’s how Jesus did it. He spoke in parables.

(The reader that is frustrated with Jesus’ parables might want to start in Mark 4:1-20. Here, in verse 13, Jesus asks, “ Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” He then goes on to explain the parable.)