Remember that surprise twist at the end of “The Usual Suspects” or “The Sixth Sense”? How about that spicy meatball at the end of the Harry Potter series? Great reveals turn whatever lens we had on its head. It changes our perspective. What if we had a guide into some famous parables from the Bible to give us a new perspective? Author and speaker Doug Newton releasesd his trilogy “Fresh Eyes”. From page one, Newton sets the tone with this key question:
What if the commonplace understanding of a Bible story of well-known Scripture passage is the very thing keeping us from seeing the text in a new, life-transforming way?
I just finished Fresh Eyes on Jesus’ Parables. Each chapter is a parable deconstructed with personal stories, Biblical history and context, some English lessons, and a ton of heart.
Middle Management Guy is in debt in a big way. His boss cancels his debt with no request for payment or interest. Just canceled. Boom! Middle Management Guy thanks his boss but when asked by someone who owed him a little, didn’t return the favor to forgive the debt. He charged interest and wasn’t filled with grace. Question: Have you ever been forgiven for something? Maybe something really big? In this day and age, we are beginning to move away from just forgiving. Newton points to three key rationalizations:
- The “Difference Excuse”: I’m grateful my debt was forgiven, but his debt differs from mine because…
- The ”Obligation Excuse”: Don’t get me wrong, I’m so relieved to have my debt cancelled! But just because the master was obligated to cancel mine doesn’t obligate me to cancel other people’s debts
- The “I’m Only Human Excuse”: I shouldn’t have come down so strongly on that guy – maybe I even should have just let him off the hook – but I’m only human. You can’t expect me….
Unless, Of Course
As Newton concludes this parable, he reminds us we can’t make excuses for not being obedient. We’ve gotta lean in to allow us to be transformed into grace-givers and debt-cancelers. “Yes we each have a certain personality type that makes it easier or harder to behave in certain ways for better or worse. And yes, birth order, upbringing, and social experiences shape us. But there’s no UOC (Unless, Of Course) version of the Bible that allows us to insert the phrase, “unless, of course” after admonitions to “love your neighbor as yourself, unless or course you‘ have had a frustrating day.” Or “Bless those who mistreat you, unless, of course you’re at the end of your rope.” Our God promises to conform us to His image as we by faith shed the “I’m only human” view of ourselves.”
Every chapter has discussion questions and a “20/20 Focus” to lean into the ideas and concepts for application. The format works great individually or for a group.
Words matter. Some are great at writing them. Some are great at speaking them. Doug Newton is great at both. This fall, consider slowing down and look through the parables of Jesus – with Fresh Eyes. Learn more at Doug’s Website: https://dougnewton.com