Here’s a bit of a different type of post from me. I just wrapped up a class on the parables which I really enjoyed. One of the assignments was to take was we learned related to the way parables functioned and were often structured and develop a modern or contemporary parable. Creative writing isn’t my thing as I prefer the conceptual stuff, but it was a good exercise for me. I’m not going to provide any commentary on it. If you’re so inclined you can read it and share any thoughts you might have. Here it goes…
The Parable of the Two Brothers
There was once was a pair of brothers who lived on the street in the city. Each day was a struggle just to make it through the day with difficult and changing weather conditions, dangers of the streets, and the reality of having little to no money. They were able to survive in large part due to the efforts of an inner-city church that was committed to providing shelter when needed as well as meals for the hungry. Both brothers were extremely grateful and over time they became involved with the church and volunteered in outreach and care for the poor.
One day, after many months had gone by, a stranger approached one of the brothers and gave him an extremely valuable gem. He said, “This is an opportunity. Take it and use it wisely.” This brother was very thankful and excited that he could find some comfort from his day-to-day struggles just to get by. He also figured he could make a difference with his new wealth to help those who he had spent so much time with on the streets.
This now wealthy brother moved out of the city and as he was establishing himself in a nice community, he frequently gave large sums of money to the inner-city church that had helped him so frequently in his times of need. This wealthy brother offered to bring his brother with him to his new upper class home, but the poor brother did not want to leave the community to which he had grown attached and that had invested so much in him. The poorer brother asked the now wealthy brother why he had to move so far away from him and from the people that had become their community. The wealthy brother replied that he thought that he could do greater things and be wiser with his wealth if he learned how to be successful in business and relate to those people in society who could really get things done.
But as time went on, the wealthy brother found a new church and became connected to a new community of people. And as time went on, his trips back to see his brother and his former church were fewer and far between. Furthermore, the amount of money that he was giving to help those in his former way of life began to decline significantly as he began to increasingly invest his resources with a long-term outlook with the future in mind.
After a few years passed, the wealthy brother had stopped giving to his former church and his trips back to his old neighborhood and community stopped altogether. As he became more prosperous and successful in business, more involved in his church, and increasingly occupied by his new family he stopped helping his brother altogether and eventually he even forgot that he had a brother.
One day many years later, this rich man found himself back in the city for a business meeting upon which many of his future dreams depended. As he walked to a restaurant, he had a vague feeling of familiarity, but he shrugged it off. He then passed a church that was soliciting donations to help the homeless and poor of that community. A very familiar face asked him if he could make a donation to help those in need. The wealthy brother said that he could not and that he had to hurry to make it to the restaurant to meet with a very important business client.
When the wealthy brother arrived at his business dinner, his client surprised him when he started off stating, “It seems as if you have done well for yourself. Can I ask you one question? Have you handled your wealth wisely?” At that moment, his former life came rushing back and he recognized this older man as the very one who had given him his ticket out of poverty years ago. The wealthy brother proudly shared many of his great accomplishments, but then this elderly man asked him, “Has anything changed out there?” as he pointed outside to the very streets on which they had met years before. The wealthy brother was silent, for things on the street seemed worse than they did many years before.
The elderly man broke the silence saying, “Because you have forgotten your brother and not used your wealth wisely to aid those who have been in the same position you used to be in – homeless and hungry, I will not do further business with you and I will bestow the favor that you once enjoyed and I will bestow it on your brother.”
*My original version involved a lottery ticket, but I was informed by a conservative classmate that a true Christian would never accept a lottery ticket because it’s gambling. I expressed how it was clear we didn’t share the same convictions about the scope of behavior open to “true Christians.” I failed to tell him that if someone presented me with a lottery ticket, much less a winning one, I’d scratch that thing silly like it was going out of style.
I don’t gamble (as long as pool money for fantasy football and the ncaa tourney don’t count) and I’ve never bought a lottery ticket in my life, but that exchange has motivated me to at least invest 1$ in the future just to do it.