Biblical metaphors are as common as verses. Similes and metaphors are literary tools used to communicate spiritual reality by comparing some aspects of spiritual things with natural things.
The metaphor and allegory usage of Jesus fills the red letter part of the Bible. Jesus is continually saying, “The kingdom of Heaven is like.”
We understand that Jesus does not have vegetable or vineyard DNA when He says He is the authentic Vine. What He says about a vine, branches, and husbandman are metaphoric. The use of the metaphor is limited to aspects of His relationship with believers and the Father that may be understood by the simile.
This is true of Paul’s use of building, body, and bride in describing the kingdom ekklesia.
Exaggerations Are Errors
The greatest enemy of truth is exaggeration. The use of metaphors that reveal spiritual reality to explain our existential substitutes for spiritual reality produces superstition–that is, a false “how things really work in the spirit” point of view. That is, we build religion with tradition and superstition using a Bible and Bible words to proof text our error.
- We are guilty of exaggerating metaphors. We are guilty of saying church-growthism is like in the reverse of the metaphor.
- Instead of the metaphor helping us understand spiritual reality, we use the metaphor to understand our church-growthism. We begin with our reality and project it back upon the spiritual reality.
The kingdom of God is reality. Building, body, and bride are metaphors. Apostle, Prophet, and Teacher are leadership roles explained by reality. Evangel and Shepherd are leadership roles explained by metaphoric behaviors and similes.
We tend to dismiss the reality of spirit God presupposes in favor of an existential context for understanding how things work in the spirit. So, we find “pastor,” which is a faulty, one-time translation of “shepherd” the all-encompassing reality when the Bible sees this leader responding to a behavior metaphorically described in the behavior. An incredibly dumb animal common to the culture of the Bible but much less so to moderns is not the most significant indicator of how the kingdom citizens live, think, act, or represent Jesus.
Since poets love metaphors, our worship music becomes a more powerful teacher than Holy Spirit, the Bible, or actual teachers. Millions build their understanding of spiritual reality on poetic license exaggerations that move the soul and distort the truth. This is not the fault of the poets because the poetry is supposed to the literature of a matured kingdom culture, not the primary exegesis of Scripture.
New Era Language
The language of the New Era Reformation is spiritual language. The similes will not match modern church-anity. They will refer to the “how things really work in the spirit” of the Bible.
When we reveal that “family” references contain metaphoric aspects that do not match natural family, the sudden slap in the face to “I need a spiritual family” paradigm will give way to the real world of the kingdom of God. An Oikos or spiritual ecosystem, matrix, and lineage of spiritual inheritance cannot walk on all fours with the natural relationships of the nuclear family.
Saying, “Bro and Sis” is Biblical, but it is kingdom, not “churchish.” Assuming this means we are siblings requires us to also grasp hold of the other leadership roles, like fathering and eldering, that do not match natural relationship dynamics.
Community is not a Bible priority. It is a byproduct of the kingdom culture. Kingdom culture is the relationship dynamics reality of the kingdom of God. Citizenship defines “Bro and Sis” relationships.
For example, Jesus says that a brother sinning against you is a kingdom citizenship issue. If your initial approach restores the breach–he listens and makes right the wrong–you have “won a brother.” However, the meaning of “brother” isn’t the same as your natural brother and sister. If the brother refuses, you begin legal witnesses to open a court case and have him excommunicated, set outside the gates, or marked as a pagan for not restoring the relationship.
Believers find this too harsh for church, natural family, or basic friendship. They say, “Well, I still love him because he is my brother.” They disobey Jesus, disdain Jesus’ words, dismiss Truth, and devalue kingdom culture because they do not understand the metaphoric nature of spiritual, kingdom “brother and sister” language