Posted by: Philip Rushton | March 5, 2012

When Did God Become An Egg?

Carl Medearis has written a powerful book called Speaking of Jesus: The Art or Not-Evangelism. While I do not agree with everything in this book, it has some profound ideas. This book documents the insights Medearis gains over his numerous years of missionary work in the Middle East and in America. His main concern is that the contemporary church has reduced God to a set of principles. When we talk about Jesus, we de-personalize him and explain him as an idea or an object.

Medearis illustrates this problem by recounting a time when he explained the doctrine of the Trinity to a non-believer by using the analogy of the egg. The egg is like the Trinity because it is one entity that is made up of three parts – the shell, the egg white, and the yoke. As Medearis looks back on this interaction he comes to the painful realization that he had reduced the living God to an egg! The problem with this analogy, as well as many of our explanations about God, is that it reduces God to an idea or a set of principles. Jesus is no longer a living personal God but an inanimate egg yoke.

Medearis proceeds to argue that our conversations about Jesus should be based on the assumption that Jesus is alive and present among us. We need to start relating to God and explaining God as a person not just as an idea. I think that we can do this in two ways. First, we communicate to the non-Christian world the reality of Jesus through our actions. Jesus reminds his disciples that people will know they are his followers not by their explanations but when they love one another (John 13:35) Secondly, I think we need to rely on the use of narrative and storytelling when we speak about Jesus. We should not explain Jesus as a 4 four point program of salvation, we should tell the stories of Jesus and how these stories continues to be written in our lives. This, after all, is how Jesus sought to communicate himself to us. God did not give us a 4 point document, he gave us his very Son who came and dwelt among us. He then inspired the early church to record what he came to do through the great storytelling gifts of the gospel writers.

I think this has implications for both our personal spirituality and the corporate expression of our faith to non-believers. The reality is we can reduce God to an inanimate object both in our prayer life and in our outreach.

God is not an egg! Thanks be to God.

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Responses

  1. Could you expand on what you meant by, “I think we need to rely on the use of narrative and storytelling when we speak about Jesus.”
    Do you mean instead of witnessing with a tract like the 4 Spiritual Laws or using the Egg illustration, we should relate a narrative story from the gospels. e.g. “I can really relate to the parable Jesus tells about the Prodigal Son because I was in similar situation when I….”
    I’m kind of curious because when I was in Campus Crusade in my college years we did a lot witnessing with the 4 Laws, and I always felt a little stiff or unnatural doing it. I wished I could somehow share from the natural overflow of my “abundant life” (which wasn’t really that abundant) Anyway, I interested to hear more.
    Stan

    • Hey Stan,

      Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, I think your examples capture what I was talking about. When you look at how Jesus engaged with seekers he often did so through interactive story telling. The genius of the parables is that they communicated truth in a more subversive way that got around the hearers defenses and challenged them to interact. I think there is a lot of power in telling stories because they are more personal, and easier to relate to. I also think that there is a lot of power in testimony. Instead of just talking about God as an idea it is important to talk about how we have encountered God and how he has been real to us. In our conversations about Jesus it is important for us to speak with the conviction that we think he is actually present and real. The 4 spiritual laws tend to take the life out of the gospel story.

      There may be a time and place where a more systematic explanation of salvation is useful. People do have different learning styles and some people really like to know the facts. But has your experience illustrates, it can seem a bit stiff.

      With all evangelistic efforts I think it is important for us to be relational. A pastor in town asked if our church wanted to join his church in a door to door campaign to tell people about God. I did not take him up on that opportunity because those forced conversations are just that – forced. We need to earn a right to talk with people, and we need to genuinely care for them not just see them as a project. People know when they are being sold something!


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