Parable of the messy rooms

Parable of the messy rooms

There once was a father with two sons.  Each son had their own room.  Both rooms became very cluttered and messy as children’s rooms tend to become.  The Father sat the two boys and commanded them to clean their rooms.  The scope of the project was so large that the sons were overwhelmed and didn’t know to start.  So the father wrote down some instructions for them.  Both took the instructions.  The oldest boy cared a great deal about following instructions.  He followed the instructions to the letter.  The youngest boy was more focused on the goal and loosely interpreted his father’s instructions with the same goal.  When oldest boy discovered that the youngest wasn’t following the instructions the same way he did he became very upset.  He marched in to his younger brother’s room and started yelling at him.  The youngest boy became angry and started yelling back.  They started arguing over who followed their father’s instructions.  They even debated who the better son was.

When the father returned home he discovered his sons fighting and their rooms were still a mess.  The father brought the boys together and asked why.  The oldest explained that his younger brother wasn’t following the instructions correctly and had to correct him.  The younger brother protested and said that he was following the spirit of the instructions and his older brother should just worry about his own room.  The father interjected by saying “I gave both of you a job to do and neither of you did it.”  To the oldest son he said “You are right in that your brother didn’t clean his room the way I wanted him to, but you didn’t help him, you just accused him of being wrong.  In the end neither your room nor your brothers are clean.”  The father then told both sons they will be punished for failing to follow his command.

End of parable

I am a firm believer in good doctrine because poor doctrine can warp our relationship with God.  If we think God is an ogre with a hammer ready to punish the slightest disobedience it will make us unnecessarily fear him.  If we think all there is to God is a free ticket to heaven we won’t allow his grace to transform us.   Doctrine isn’t everything. Dare I say it isn’t the main thing.  It is essential, just as much as the body of a car is essential. However the main purpose of a car is not to have a good structure but to get people to where they want to go.

As I reflect upon the theological warfare happening on blogs I can’t help but think we aren’t like to the two boys in the parable above.  We are righting over who is more right while we ignore the things that matter the most.  I appreciated the EC because it functions as if the status quo is unacceptable.  Where some people have gone from that conclusion is a little bit disconcerting but I admire their desire to try.  Just as disconcerting are those who stand in judgment over certain leaders while there is nothing in their movement, tribe, local church or denomination is reversing the impotence and irrelevance of the church in our day. 

  1. #1 by dan on August 16, 2005 - 12:36 am

    Good post. Look forward to seeing your blog further enriched with stories of family life….

  2. #2 by Darryl on August 16, 2005 - 4:31 am


    And welcome back. Missed your blogging! But glad you got a break.

  3. #3 by Gil on August 16, 2005 - 1:34 pm

    Nice post LT. I like your analogy of the point of the car not being the structure but the destination. So where is the destination? The point of Christianity is surely not to argue. We need a better destination but it seems like, as a rule, we’re not sure what where we’re going. So the ‘value’ of theology has to have an appropriate ‘end goal’. I’d be interested in your take on what the goal is.

  4. #4 by Krystal on August 16, 2005 - 3:03 pm

    I’m guessing this is one of the more many things Jeremy and I look forward to. lol 🙂 I’ll keep this parable in mind when dealing with my kids. 😀

  5. #5 by Dave King on August 16, 2005 - 9:02 pm

    Welcome back, Welcome to fatherhood. Welcome to the old married guy club 🙂

    – Peace


  6. #6 by kbartha on August 17, 2005 - 11:20 am

    I was just mentioning to someone the other day how our doxology (straight worship) effects our orthodoxy (straight teaching) affects our orthopraxy (straight living well).

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