The Allegory of the Eye Clinic
So what if we were all part of an extraordinary medical clinic that can diagnose and heal any eye condition imaginable? The founding doctor brilliantly discovered a gene therapy process that can treat any condition within the eye itself. Incidentally, if you were far-sighted or near-sighted you would still need glasses. But glaucoma, and many other disorders, could be cured through his gene therapy.
All of his inventions are state-of-the-art. He even has a school that trains individuals and gives them certificates to use his patented equipment. Though there is a charge for services, he gives all treatments at a reasonable price. He is growing his medical clinics as fast as he can in order to help everyone in need.
So…you become part of the team. You are trained and certified, and you have a sense of honor for being involved with such a breakthrough in the medical world. Your team all around you is trained and each member is one of the best in the field. Your doctor is amazing and generous. People start coming by the thousands and the results are overwhelming.
All technicians, including you, are also blessed out of this medical breakthrough because any eye problems each worker personally has are treated for free. The other perks are pretty amazing as well. You work a 32-hour week and get paid for 40 hours. You get five weeks of vacation with five personal days–equaling six weeks off for the year. In the clinic is a seafood and lean-meat buffet with a full salad and fruit bar, along with all drinks imaginable.
Even people who have come for treatment can have a meal before they leave the clinic. The doctor even encourages the staff, when they get a break, to build relationships with the clients. That’s not all. After you have worked a year at the clinic, the doctor buys you a car. Once you work for three years, he buys you a house. They are considered gifts but He also pays the taxes by putting the house and car on the payroll deduction.
You might say these are outlandish extravagant benefits for simply being part of a medical team. No one would do that, right? Well, this doctor is extremely generous–and his clinic so prosperous–that he is always finding ways to share his wealth.
But something happens after a while that brings great concern to the doctor. He begins seeing something in some of the original staff that he trained, but even more so in the latest generation of trainees that have become involved in his work. He begins to see an obsession with the perks that he has generously provided. He sees that his staff eat by themselves and gorge themselves on his full buffet–leaving little for the patients. The staff also no longer mingle with the patients but huddle together and talk about personal things. He sees little enthusiasm about how people are being cured, but much more interest in the cars and houses the workers will be getting next year.
He is heartbroken. His purpose for the clinics is healing. His deepest desire is to see people with renewed vision and perfect eyesight. His greatest joy is watching others be blessed and having his team be part of that success. He wants to still be generous and give his technicians all the perks that come with being part of his clinics. But, if his staff will not be engaged and joyful about helping the people, he begins to reconsider whether his extravagant rewards are actually becoming a hindrance instead of the blessing he intended.
The Allegory of the Plantation Owner and the Ungrateful Worker
There was a very wealthy and compassionate plantation owner who had a huge prosperous plantation outside of a large town. It was an orange plantation. He lived to bless others. So, he devoted himself to taking care of his workers and meeting all their needs. When he needed more workers, he would go into town, find those without work and offer them employment on the plantation, as well as provision of food and housing.
As the workers came, they felt part of a community; actually they felt part of a family. For each new worker, the owner trained him or her in a particular role on the orange plantation. At the end of training day, he gave them one small word of warning. He told them: “Around the edges of this plantation are pogo bushes. Please do not eat its berries. They taste incredible, they are red and juicy, but they will make you go blind.” Then, he would send them off to work his orange trees.
Inevitably, there came a time for most workers when they would eventually eat from the pogo berry bush. They would then cry out for help because of the overcoming blindness. Consequently, a few fellow workers would lead that person by the hand to the plantation owner’s large house. Once, in front of the plantation house, the blinded worker stood still waiting for the owner. The plantation owner always came out, and compassionately dealt with each person.
“Ok Fred, you’re not the first one to disobey my warnings about the pogo bush and you won’t be the last. Thankfully, I have this fountain in front of my home that has special water which will wash the hazing poisons out of your eyes, and your sight will come back.”
“However, because you ate of the pogo bush, there are toxins that will remain in your blood stream the rest of your life. But, I will teach you how to wash your eyes in this fountain, and you can come each day, at a time you decide, to keep the poisons from full destruction. I’m sorry this happened, but I do look forward to the opportunity to see you each day by the fountain so we can talk a little.”
“Fred, when workers first come and don’t need to use the fountain yet, I don’t get to see them very often. But those whom come each day I get to chat with and encourage and find out what is going on in their lives.”
It was truly such a blessing to be a worker in this place. The owner took each injured worker by the hand and led him to the fountain right in front of the long porch of the house. The owner showed him how not to just splash his eyes with the water, but how to rub the water until the thin haze of poison was washed away. To his astonishment, minutes later each worker would see as clearly as if nothing had happened. Giving the owner a big hug, each worker went back to his orange trees.
Now, it is obvious that, with this kind of provision on the plantation, some new, naive workers were tempted to go back to the pogo bush and eat a few more of those amazing berries. After all, toward the end of the day, they can simply hurry back to the fountain and wash up.
Probably once a week Fred began doing this when no one was looking. But, what he did not realize was, although the water washed away the haze, there became a more permanent fuzziness on the edges of his sight. Unknowingly, he kept on eating the berries.
The owner knew about those who would keep going back to the pogo bush and those who didn’t. Because the ones who washed and stayed around to talk were thankful for his friendship and the provision of the fountain. But, when someone came and washed and didn’t make any eye contact with the plantation owner, he knew this person was going back to the berries. Still, the owner didn’t reject anyone or kick anyone off the plantation.
But one day, the plantation owner was startled by our back-slidden berry-eating Fred because Fred had gotten so busy that, for two days in a row, he forgot to go to the fountain. He had become totally blind again when one of his fellow workers finally led him by the hand to the fountain. Once there, he washed his eyes and the plantation owner spoke kindly to him. “Fred, you can’t stop coming to the fountain, you have to come every day, it doesn’t work any other way.”
And that’s when Fred came back with this reply: “Yes, I know. That’s what you told me the first time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really thankful for this fountain, sir, but I just wish I only had to wash in it once a year. Why does it have to be every day?”
Astonished, the plantation owner turned away saddened and realized Fred did not even want to know him as a friend but simply came to the fountain only to be washed and then go back to his berries.
The Allegory of the Purple Eyes
In a certain medieval city, a portion of its population had an inherent strength: extraordinary eyesight. Their eyes had the unusual color of amethyst purple, but these individuals had twice the visual focus and range of others. Unfortunately, this made many in the city jealous of their advantage and, in fact, the amethyst-eyed individuals were often significantly misunderstood because of their unique gift.
The first generation of individuals with amethyst-colored eyes was aware of the advantages that came with their unusual trait. So, they bore the odd stares and public jeers in stride with an eager intent to use their gift to serve the city as archers in the army. They had outstanding success as archers—especially in night operations. And, for many years, they humbly served as outstanding warriors for the city. However, as time went on, more and more people became jealous of their success and began demeaning them with names like “purple eyes.” Even well-meaning friends came to the amethyst-eyed individuals and gave them suggestions of foods to eat that would change the color of their eyes. Eventually the strongest proposal became that the amethyst-eyed individuals wear half-veils over the upper part of their faces to compensate for what had been deemed as an “offensive” and “inappropriate” look.
Many generations passed and the shame of having amethyst eyes created a culture of half-veils. No one really made fun of them anymore, but the advantage of their superior eyesight was marginalized by the veil. Their gift became suppressed. Instead of remaining strong and comfortable with an special and undeserving gift, the amethyst-eyed individuals listened to the heckling voices of jealousy and mistrust. They became submissive to a veiled-image. When times of war came to their city, they were relegated to the same tactical level as those who had normal vision and did not leverage the advantage that came with their extreme gift. They lost “sight” of the true value of their gift.
Then, one day in battle, a few of the younger warriors had enough. They stepped up and said, “Let’s throw away these silly veils and use our eyesight to its full advantage!” To the astonishment of those standing around, they ripped off their veils and began to ravage the enemy with accurate archery fire. Emboldened by these young warriors, the rest of the “purple eyes” in the ranks ripped off their veils, as well. So began an intense, accurate attack on the enemy. The amethyst-eyed individuals aimed their long bows at an enemy who could only see half the distance that they could. Victory was an inevitable outcome.
Sometimes we, as believers, do this very thing—burying the foundations of our CONFESSIONAL FAITH based on the eternal Word of God that is empowered by the Holy Spirit. Just because some have articulated the truth in the past with an argumentative religious spirit of judgmentalism (not reflecting the heart of Christ) doesn’t mean that the Word of God and the Holy Spirit aren’t still our most significant advantages. We need not be ashamed. Ever.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16, KJV)
“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” (2 Timothy 1:8-9, NIV)