Metaphors, and Metaphoric Living

There is an idiom that gets a lot of mileage with those overly dramatical types, “life’s a stage and the whole world’s watching.”

I tend to think those people are quite conceited. Because, really, their goal is to put themself on display for the world to be amused with.

The world's stage

God’s familial metaphors

There is another sense, though, in which that statement is profoundly true. God has established these huge, cosmic metaphors which are the realities in which we live.  The reality in which creation lives is intended to bring the knowledge of a yet bigger reality; namely, the triune God. The metaphors which God ingeniously crafted to illustrate himself and his purposes have to do with our notion of family: marriage, adoption, and birth.

God’s familial drama

Metaphors are not solely comparisons. Metaphors are used “to provide a partial understanding of one kind of experience in terms of another kind of experience” (Williams, Paul’s Metaphors). The dramatization of God’s familial metaphors provide enormous means for one to gain a partial understanding of what a missional family illustrates, or points to.

For instance — when a husband loves, leads, serves, and sacrifices for his wife, and when his wife is respecting, submitting, and loving him — that is an accurate illustration of the relationship between Jesus and the church; albeit, only partial.

When a father adopts a child who is not biologically his, and loves him unconditionally, without distinction to his biological children — the beauty of God the Father changing our status from enemy to son is dramatized.

When a mother gives birth to a baby and the baby grows up looking like and acting like his parents — the reality of the Spirit’s work in creating a new nature in us is powerfully displayed.

Living in the metaphor

One can see that actually acting out these metaphors is, essentially, dramatizing the gospel in the context of family. It puts an experience to the abstract thought, or word, of a relationship with God in his triune self.

This is a high view of the family. Of course, the correlation is not 1:1. Husbands are sceezebags, fathers neglect their kids, and kids may not ever resemble their family – no matter how godly. Those types of experiences tend to either 1) make God’s family all the more attractive, or 2) taint the idea of God’s family.

With new resolve, may we fiercely defend and promote marriage as something sacred; may we bring orphans into our families and delight in them; and may we make lots of babies.

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