A down-home-looking cowboy from the Midwest walked into a sophisticated bank in New York City and asked for the loan officer. He told the loan officer that he was going to Paris for an international rodeo for two weeks, needed to borrow $5,000 and that he was not a depositor of the bank.
The bank officer told him that the bank would need some form of security for the loan, so the cowboy handed over the keys to his new Ferrari. The car was parked on the street in front of the bank. The cowboy produced the title and everything checked out. The loan officer agreed to hold the car as collateral for the loan and apologized for having to charge 12% interest.
Later, the bank’s president and its officers all enjoyed a good laugh at the backwoods cowboy for using a $250,000 Ferrari as collateral for a $5,000 loan. An employee of the bank then drove the Ferrari into the bank’s private underground garage and parked it.
Two weeks later, the cowboy returned and repaid the $5,000 and the interest of $23.07. The loan officer said, “Sir, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out on Dunn & Bradstreet and found that you are a highly sophisticated investor and multimillionaire with real estate and financial interests all over the world. Your investments include a large number of wind turbines around the Midwest. What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow $5,000?”
The good old boy replied, “Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $23.07 and expect it to be there when I return?”
Did you see that one coming? Or were you taken off guard by the punch line? Things are not always as they seem. Sometimes we think something is one way, and it turns out to be something completely different, doesn’t it?
A strong young man at a construction site was bragging that he could outdo anyone in a feat of strength. He made a special case of making fun of one of the older workmen. After several minutes, the older worker had had enough. “Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is?” he said. “I’ll bet a week’s wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that building that you won’t be able to wheel back.”
“You’re on, old man,” the young worker replied.
The old man reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then he turned to the young man and said, “All right. Get in.”
That one may take some extra thinking, but the principle is the same: Sometimes the things that are not what they seem may get us into trouble, simply because we take things at face value.
That is the way it was with the followers of Jesus. They tried to take Him at His word but He was always, or so it seemed, talking to them in parables. He would make statements that seemed to say one thing. His disciples then realized that what He was telling them was confusing at best, and they discovered that He may have been talking about something completely different. To their credit, the longer they were with Him, the bolder they became to ask Him what He was talking about.
God is in the business of changing things, of making old things new. We look at things in life one way and God transforms them into something new. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we read that “… if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Some time ago, I was involved with some folks who asked a question about Jesus. They wanted to know how to understand the fact that Jesus is God. Now, these folks are Christ-followers, although fairly new on the journey, but they just did not completely understand. It was such a joy to explain to them how Jesus is completely man, yet completely God.
The conversation eventually turned to a discussion about the Trinity. I asked the woman for an egg. I then took the egg and cracked the egg into a dish and inquired about how many parts of that egg they now could see. They properly observed that there were three parts to that egg in the dish – the shell, the yolk and the egg white. Not striking, they are all still referred to by the moniker egg, even though they each are in a different form, and each has a different function. In the same way, Jesus is not the Father, who also is not the Holy Spirit, who in turn is not Jesus. Yet they are all God. Voila, the Trinity! What a tremendously simple and down-to-earth picture of what could be a very confusing theological subject.
You may not be borrowing a small sum of money just to pay the rent for the safekeeping of your car, or trying to win an argument with a strong man, but the fact is that things in life are not always what they seem to be and we need to grasp just how much Jesus wants us to trust Him to understand what we are going through. The life of a Christian may seem so ordinary and so common to those who do not follow Him, but things are not always as they seem. To the true Christ-follower in the real world today, there is an astonishing life behind that commonplace façade.
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area minister. He can be reached at email@example.com.