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When you were in school, for some of you the eight most frightening words of your day were, "OK, students, it is time for English class."
In fact, just reading that sentence caused some of you to shiver. Others, however few and far between, actually enjoyed English class. You thrived on learning vocabulary words, and loved to diagram sentences. You labored over every paper to make sure each phrase was as sharp as the pencil that wrote it.
This article is for those weird folks in the second category. But we'll allow the rest of you to look over our shoulders.
Several months ago I came across an Internet site that had supposedly compiled some rather unique analogies from high school students' papers. I say "supposedly" because when you find something on the Internet, who really knows where it came from?
But, regardless of their origin, I thought they were humorous. For example, one of the comparisons listed was this gem: "The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't."
See? Short, to the point, and very descriptive!
Some of the analogies were not very creative: "He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree."
Others didn't really add much to enhance the reader's understanding, like this one: "John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met." Weren't those helpful?
Some of the examples listed were clever: "Her date was pleasant enough, but she knew that if her life was a movie this guy would be buried in the credits as something like 'Second Tall Man'." Who among us doesn't have such people buried in the credits of the movies of our lives?
For the mathematicians out there, there was this: "Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph."
Some of you are laughing, and others just ran from the room screaming. Sorry about that.
Some of the analogies were head-scratchers: "The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can." When did that thing disappear, anyway?
How about this somewhat wordy example from the "if life gives you lemons" department: "He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it."
And finally, my favorite: "Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever."
So, what's the point? It is simply this: Analogies, when properly used, can help us understand things that might otherwise be difficult for us to grasp.
Great communicators understand this, and use it to their advantage. The greatest teacher of all time, Jesus, often used analogies. When describing what the lives' of his followers were to be about, Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth." And "You are the light of the world." These are easy-to-understand comparisons that tell us, if we are Christians, that we are to make a positive difference in the world.
Salt enhances the flavor of things, slows decay, and helps in the healing process. In short, salt makes a positive difference.
Light helps people see where they are going and what they are doing. It reveals how things really are. In short, light makes a positive difference.
So Jesus said that His followers are to make a positive difference in the world. The only way for us to make a real difference is to bring the light of God's truth to bear on every aspect of our lives.
As we quickly approach Election Day, this is the underlying principle that should guide our vote: Which candidates' views most closely reflect the truth found in the Bible?
Only by applying the principles found in the Bible can we begin to slow the decay in our culture and help to heal the wounded hearts (and even fix the troubled economy!) that have been caused by years of ignoring God.
Jesus also gave us another well-known analogy that describes the result of electing leaders who are not guided by the Truth: He said it was "like the blind leading the blind."
Come Nov. 4, I pray that our collective eyes are open.
Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. If you have questions or comments, e-mail him at email@example.com