A few distinct words can paint the picture of an image with deep applications and far-reaching implications. 

A good metaphor can provide clarity and direction on complex and obscure thoughts that would otherwise remain complex and obscure. Good metaphors reveal new understandings, they allow you to hold up a concept in the light and look at it from different perspectives you have never before seen.

If you slow down long enough to look at a metaphor and really consider it, it can unlock ideas that would normally be difficult in revolutionary ways. So, it is no surprise that Jesus, the master teacher, loved to teach using metaphors, and more specifically, controlling metaphors.

A controlling metaphor can be used throughout an entire sermon, topic or literary piece as a grounding idea to express a deeper thought, and Jesus used them everywhere He went.

He said to His followers, “You are the salt of the earth.” “You are a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.” “You are the light of the world.”

These metaphors gave Jesus’ followers a sense of identity—they helped them understand their purpose and potential, just as they still do now. The approach of Jesus’ teaching reflected His heart for people. His desire was to make the Gospel—this deep and rich hope—something that was powerfully practical in their everyday lives, yet stunningly profound and continuously insightful.

Instead of just telling people what to do, which is a favorite of the religious, Jesus used metaphors to show people who they are. This was unlike anyone else in the world. Because even now, the world would say, “What you do defines who you are,” but Jesus was teaching us that behavior flows from identity.

As we look to the future of Southeast Christian Church, we want to use these metaphors as our values, because when we know who we are, then we’ll know what to do. This weekend we will begin a new five-week sermon series titled Mantra.

Mantras are a few words that are repeated again and again to remind you of a truth that will inspire you, motivate you, challenge you and give you direction. These five mantras will serve as our church’s values for the years to come.

These five mantras are not business best practices. They are not wishful self-talk. They are five metaphors found in the Gospels, straight from the life and teachings of Jesus about who we are. Because when we know who we are, we will know what to do.

In this next season of Southeast, our hope is that these mantras will become descriptors of every member at Southeast, that we will rally around them, willingly stepping into greater sacrifice and service together for the sake of Christ.

When the full force of the church knows who we are with confidence, we can step together boldly into things so big that if God isn’t in it, we will surely fail. So lean in, steady your hands, raise the sails and get ready for the ride of your life.