"That's why I tell stories: to create readiness."
In The Message paraphrase of the Bible, Jesus tells his disciples that this is the reason why he speaks in parables so often. According to Jesus, the crowd that comes to hear him preach can not yet discern the message he is preaching because their spirits and hearts are not yet ready. By speaking to them in stories, Jesus is hoping to create a new openness and awareness to spiritual things. What Jesus is saying is that people can't hear the true message because they aren't searching for it. By telling stories that connect everyday experiences with spiritual things, Jesus knows that he can help foster a desire for understanding. When the desire to understand is in place, then the message will be heard.
I find this thought helpful today as I consider how I can tell the world around me about Jesus. So often, I think I need to have some well-thought out apologetic in place in order to convince my friends and neighbors of the truth-claims about Christ. In reality, the Bible would suggest that most people aren't interested in all that because they just aren't ready for it.
What are people ready for? Stories. Stories that connect to the kind of life they live and the experiences they are having. I find this encouraging because I love to tell stories and I find that most people love to listen to them. (Not just to mine- stories have some kind of hidden power! Just try saying, "once upon a time" in a crowd and see how many people turn to listen.) As I tell stories of the simple realities of knowing God in my own life, I too can take part in helping people get ready to hear the message of Jesus.
So, be a story-teller today! And if you are one who is seeking after truth and curious about Jesus, listen to the stories he told.
May Jesus journey with you today in the story of your life.