The Phil Files

Musings & messages on everyday worship, Jesus, and the stuff of life.

Archive for April 22nd, 2009

Plumber as Metaphor

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Been reading a fascinating book by Euguene Peterson: The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way. In one chapter, he talks about two powerful metaphors for the failed ways religion has tried to change people: professor and policeman. The first tries to educate people out of our sinful ways and the other tries to enforce the rules or punish people out of our sinful ways.

It occurred to me — just further proof of my warped perspective, maybe — that there is another metaphor that might be helpful here: plumber. A plumber is someone who sees our worst messes and works on the things that are absolutely necessary, but which are usually unseen systems. A plumber works to set those internal systems right so life can function properly. In many ways, that is a more fitting metaphor of what God did for us in Jesus than professor or policeman, but clearly it is not as glamorous. Plus, plumber is a metaphor that reminds us that God was willing to get his hands dirty in the mess of our world.

I know this isn’t earthshakingly theological or significant, but I wonder if it might give us a point of reference to think through Jesus in terms that are not neat and tidy, and put a little more of a “manly” face on Him than the movies and artist renditions do. And before you get all bent out of shape about me comparing Jesus to a plumber, let me just remind you of some of the Lord’s own words:

Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked,  “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” …

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into your mouth does not defile you, but what comes out of your mouth, that is what defiles you.”

Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides.d If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these defile you. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile you; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile you.” (Matthew 15:1-2, 10-20 tniv emphasis mine)

Written by phil

April 22nd, 2009 at 8:59 am

Posted in Images,Jesus