John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)
In this claim, Jesus summarizes the epitome of all promises. We proclaim it through countless songs, testimonies, sermons, poems, plaques, cards, and much more. Yet, there's that ever-present risk: over-familiarity can dull us to the sheer enormity of the promise. The following allegory is my attempt to freshen up the vitality of Jesus' claim. Why not consider where you fit into this story — or rather, into God's grand story?
- The Magic Vase
A certain grocer felt a deep appreciation for his customers and decided to express his gratitude by offering a free, hand-crafted vase. He displayed one in the store window with this sign: "FREE VASE! ONE PER HOME!" No one in town wished to refuse a free gift, so they all got their vase. The cashier carefully wrapped each one, along with the following instructions:
"This is a magical vase, to be displayed at all times. Fill with water and one dozen red roses. The blooms will stay fresh. They will filter bad odours and air pollutants and emit a soothing aroma throughout your home. The improved air quality will enhance your vigour."
It quickly became apparent that many customers didn't take the gift seriously. One housewife preferred yellow roses to match her décor; the blooms didn't last. A bachelor set his vase on the kitchen table, but it got in his way, so he trashed it. Many resumed using their favourite vases. A few felt guilty for their disinterest, so they displayed it occasionally. Some customers never did unwrap it. Instead, they opened a flower shop in the grocer's name.
The handful of customers who actually observed the instructions discovered that the roses became more radiant over time. Visitors enjoyed the lovely aroma and commented on the enchanting peace in the home. They felt deep appreciation for the grocer.
One night at 2 a.m., a horrific explosion at the chemical plant rocked the town, throwing everyone into a panic. Toxic fumes shot into the air. Some townsfolk suddenly remembered the vase with its guarantee to filter toxins. However, they couldn't locate theirs before succumbing to the fumes. Only those who had been enjoying their vases were spared. The air in their homes remained pure.
Prayer: Gracious Lifegiver, nudge us from our over-familiarity with Your promise, that we may fervently grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and be prepared for whatever may befall us. Amen.