What in the world do contact lenses have to do with Christianity? Well, not a whole lot, unless you happen to be in the business of making analogies. I’m *cough* rather fond of analogies and comparisons myself, so when we had a little lecture at STEP about using analogies to convey Christian ideas, I was very excited. And today I’d like to demonstrate how it works.
So let’s say that you have an idea or concept that you want to convey to the world – for example’s sake, let’s say the role of God’s power in the life of a Christian. How would you communicate this to others?
First, pick an object. Any object will do, but the more common it is, the better. You want people to recognize what you’re talking about – otherwise, the analogy will be lost on them. So for our example, I have chosen to use contact lenses, and I’m going to use them to show the relationship between God’s power and the Christian. So far so good.
Okay, so you have a concept and a common object. Now what? How do you connect the two in a way that makes sense? How do compare something like hand sanitizer to the importance of family relationships, or pens to applying God’s word to one’s life, (real examples from STEP, by the way) or…contacts to God’s power in the Christian life?
Well, let’s start by listing off the properties (or attributes, or whatever you want to call them) of the object you picked. What does the object look like? What does it do? What makes it unique? Let’s go back to our example with the contact lenses. Contacts help people see things clearly. They are only good for a certain period of time. You have to use saline to clean them, preserve them, and make them work. They are very thin. They come in individual packets that squirt saline everywhere when you open them.
Since we don’t want to ramble all over the place and bore people, let’s just pick two or three of those attributes to use for our analogy. I’m going to use three: Contacts help people see things clearly, saline cleans, preserves, and makes them work right, and they come in packets that squirt saline everywhere when you open them.
Now all that’s left is to take those attributes from your object and use them to explain your idea! This is where the fun begins. *Grins mischievously* So let’s see what happens when we try it with our example, shall we?
We, Christians, are like contact lenses, and God’s power is the saline. It cleanses us, preserves us, and is the key factor when we try to make a difference in people’s lives. (Try putting a contact lens in without the saline! It doesn’t work very well. [And yes, I speak from experience…]) Without God’s power, we dry up and become useless.
You know how contacts come in those individual packets? Those are like our comfort zones. We are surrounded by God’s power, we’re clean, fresh, and…comfortable. But, just like with contact lenses, we have to come out to be used. Have you ever noticed how the packages always squirt saline everywhere when you open them? It kind of makes you stop and watch what you’re doing, doesn’t it? That’s what happens when we come out of our comfort zones and reach out through God’s power. It ‘squirts’ His power everywhere, and goodness do people notice!
Now, a contact lens’s primary purpose is to help people see clearly. Our purpose as Christians is to help others see Christ clearly. Not just by our example, but by interacting with people, and talking to them about things that matter more than just the weather. (After all, contacts do more good if you wear them instead of just looking at them.) But don’t forget your saline! Remember, we don’t function very well without God’s power sustaining us. So don’t be afraid to squirt people!
See what I mean? If I had started out by saying “Don’t be afraid to squirt people!” you would have laughed. But once I explained the entire thing, it made perfect sense, and meant something to you besides what it sounded like. Aren’t analogies so neat?