For years Pete and I have been playing this game with our kids. I am sure many of you know it. It’s called the “just try it – its chicken” game. All of our kids loved chicken, but if you put something besides chicken on their plate, they turned up their noses to it. So at an early age, Pete and I called everything, Chicken.
“What’s for dinner?”
“What is that red meat on my plate?”
“It’s chicken. Yum!”
As I scooped shrimp onto their plates, they would ask, “What’s that?” (usually with a face that looked like yuck).
“It’s chicken. You love chicken.”
It seemed to work for the most part until they got old enough to realize that all this chicken had different names and very different looks. The secret was unearthed. We all laughed about it later on in life as our two oldest became teenagers and we tried it out on their much younger sister. Oh, the fun of the chicken game!
As Pete returned home last night from China, we talked about this because that is how he felt about the food in China. When he would ask what it was, the reply was always, “It’s meat.” Yet he never knew exactly what type of meat or what part of the animal he was eating.
In life, we do this chicken game quite often. We make something seem appealing, so that someone else will try it. It’s called influence. We influence others to try things that are new and different by sort of tricking them into it. I realize that at times this can be done for evil, but there is good in tricking too. Just like with my kids – I wanted them to try the food before they stuck their tongues out and blurted out the dreaded, “BLUCK!” I wanted them to do so with an open mind and heart.
When I evangelize about my faith, I cater my remarks to my audience. I don’t intend to trick, but I do want to influence them to have an open heart and mind. I make them think about their situation. Jesus did this with the parables. His stories were not necessarily true stories, but they had an impact on the group he was speaking too, because he purposely created them to do just that. The Prodigal Son, The Mustard Seed, the Hidden Treasure, The Sower, The Lost Sheep, and the Ten Virgins are just some of the parables that He told to open people’s hearts and minds to the Grace He was about to give them.
Jesus knew that it was imperative to allow people to realize that he recognized where they were at and where they needed to go. As parents we all do the same thing. We guide our children down pathways that we know they need to find – we equip them with the tools to do that. We open their hearts and minds to our guidance. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
It got me thinking – what sort of parable would Jesus need to use to talk to me? What would open my heart to God right now? The answer to that would have a huge impact on my faith life. Think about it. What tricks of the trade would Jesus need to use on you to open your heart more fully to Him?