Jesus often taught spiritual concepts with stories. NPE shares “Modern Day Parables” to teach biblical concepts with stories that get past our intellectual defenses and challenge our hearts.
Person 1: Hey, this tree is burning, let’s put out the fire!
Person 2: Why the concern about this tree? It’s not a tree in our grove.
Person 1: Whaddya mean? This tree matters. We’re Christians, we’re commanded to care about what happens to trees. And, if we don’t put out the fire with this tree, it will spread to the trees around it and maybe even threaten our grove.
Person 2: You say this tree matters? I’m offended – ALL trees matter!
Person 1: Of course all trees matter, but this tree is in distress now. Let’s tend to it before it’s too late. In fact, look – other trees are catching fire around it.
Person 2: I don’t understand why you continue to focus on these trees? Our own trees need to be tended, too, and if we save these trees, their roots might reach into the groves of our trees. That’s why moved our groves away from here in the first place.
Person 1: We have to focus on these trees, right now. Their roots are already intertwined with “our” trees and even if they weren’t, we’re commanded to take care of poor, hurting and marginalized trees.
Person 2: Perhaps if these trees had taken better care of themselves, they wouldn’t be on fire right now!
Person 1: These trees are on fire because of a spark that came to this grove. They’re good trees, just like our trees. Come on, the fire is spreading fast while we’re arguing over this. It’s going to get out of control if we don’t do something.
Person 2: Are you calling me a “tree-ist?” You’re the one favoring these trees over ours. We passed laws in the 60’s to make sure these trees have the same opportunities to survive as all other trees.
Person 1: These trees grew up in conditions that make it more difficult for them to grow healthy as the trees in our grove. But, despite those disadvantages, they’re beautiful trees – created by God and loved by God.
Person 2: That’s “fake news.” My favorite cable new station said there’s no reason these trees have it more difficult than other trees. In fact, our laws make grove growth easier for them as we keep pouring money into this grove. They don’t have to work to grow like our trees do.
Person 1: Well, you live near our grove and have your back turned right now to these trees and refuse to look at them. How can you know what they’re really like?
Person 2: I can tell you these trees are setting each other on fire. Why aren’t you talking about tree-on-tree crime right now?
Person 1: These fires have been brewing for a long time and we’ve known, if our systems weren’t continually looked at and improved, a bad fire was coming. It’s beginning to spread. We can always have discussions of how our collective money can be spent, but right now we need to care about these burning trees.
Person 2: We’ll get the authorities to cut down these trees so they don’t affect our grove anymore and put anymore of our firefighters in danger. Firefighter lives matter!
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Person 1: Firefighter lives do matter and their goal must be to help all trees be safe. Look, the wind is spreading these flames and the firefighters aren’t going to be able to contain it.
Person 2: You say the wind is fanning the flames? Fake news! I heard it was leftist groups making the flames spread. My favorite internet chat board says one of the world’s richest men has been paying trees to catch fire for years.
Person 1: That’s crazy. There was a spark, and now the fire’s spreading, we must do something!
Person 2: I don’t have to do anything, My family has never owned trees so how can you hold me responsible for this fire?
Person 1: Because if you don’t pay attention to what’s happening, this fire is going to spread and destroy other groves as well as this one – maybe even our grove.
Person 2: There you go again. You’re like those spoiled athletes who have “These Trees Matter” on their jerseys. If rich celebrities would stop talking about fires spreading we wouldn’t have these problem.
Person 1: Athletes have been trying to make us aware these fires were possible if we didn’t pay attention to the inequality in our forest culture. Come on, man, the fires are coming down the street towards our grove. Won’t you even turn around and help me fill these buckets with water to combat the flames?
Person 2: The trouble’s in “those” tree groves with those trees that don’t know how to act as decently as our trees do. This is their problem. I believe we are to love the trees, but hate their fire.
Person 1: No, our grove is on fire now. Look, it’s going to burn everything that belongs to all of us. We must do something.
Person 2: I am doing something, I’m voting. The president says he’ll stop all fires in our tree grove if he’s re-elected.
Person 1: By then, our entire grove will be burning and maybe in trouble of being destroyed. At very least it will never be the same. And, shouldn’t we care about other tree groves as much as our own?
Person 2: I do care. I told you, ALL trees matter. If the other party had raked the forest better we wouldn’t have these fires. The problems are all in the groves they lead anyways.
Person 1: No, the problem is now right here in our grove. The fire has spread and our trees are on fire because we’ve not been caring for these trees well.
Person 2: That’s OK with me. I don’t even want to have a tree in a world where we have mercy on “those” trees.
For reference, read the book of Jonah, particularly chapters 3 & 4 as well as many other Bible passages. Perhaps God asks us to care about people (and trees) that we believe unworthy of our care.