Jason’s Beta Club just completed their end of the year service project last week. They were hosts and servers at the Paragon Academy’s dinner theater production of “Fractured Fairy Tales.” Besides assisting with the meal, each club member was tasked to create a table decoration with a fairy tale theme. Jason’s assignment was the Three Little Pigs. While we were working with bricks, sticks and bundles of straw to pull our idea together, I couldn’t help but think about how this story has morphed over the years.
When I was a kid, the tale had a tragic ending for the two piglets who didn’t plan and build wisely. After the big bad wolf blew down their houses, they were eaten. Only the one who took the time to use solid building materials made it safely through to the end of the story.
By the time Laura was born and I was buying children’s books for her, the story had changed, and the two unwise piggies were no longer an after work snack for the wolf. Instead they escaped their dire fate by seeking shelter in the home of their brick-building brother.
The story had mutated even more by the time Leia was a toddler. Not only were the two foolish pigs saved from harm in the version she was given, but by the end, the wolf was rehabilitated and worked at the local carnival using his ‘huffing and puffing’ skills to blow up balloons for the other farm animals. And of course, after he was redirected and no longer misunderstood, they all lived happily ever after. The End.
There was just something that never sat right with me about that rendition, and I think I finally figured it out. While there are definitely some things that children need to be shielded from in this world, changing this story robs it of the lesson it’s supposed to teach. That is, there are sometimes devastating consequences that come from being unprepared.
Children’s stories aren’t the only things that are being softened and deprived of their lesson today. Unfortunately, it happens in our churches as well. Too often, well-meaning teachers and pastors avoid uncomfortable teachings in effort to shield potential ‘seekers’ from being offended. However, moderating biblical content often dulls the point so much that it loses its edge.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” –
Hebrews 4:12-13 –
I don’t know anyone who particularly likes to have their motives examined or their inner thoughts exposed. It’s something most of us would like to avoid. Uncomfortable, to say the least. But as the writer of Hebrews explained, a key function of scripture is to help us see ourselves as we truly are. And knowing the truth is necessary to guard us from destruction.
If you think about it in “Three Little Pigs” language… Before we can ever seek shelter and protection in the home of our elder brother (Jesus) (Matt 12:49), we first have to be shown the flaws and shoddy workmanship of the inadequate shelter that we’ve constructed for ourselves. What good does it do for us to feel good about the strength of our walls if they are really poor protection against our very real spiritual enemy who seeks to devour us? (1 Pet. 5:8) If we’re not properly prepared for our attacker’s inevitable assault, we’ll find ourselves defenseless when our doors are blown down and we’re scrambling to find protection. Our enemy is a terrifying adversary who is bent on our destruction and cannot be reasoned with or rehabilitated. If we’re going to be well-prepared to endure the darkening days ahead, we must be discerning enough to turn away from those who seek to tickle our “itching ears” (2 Tim 4:3), and tough enough to listen and act on the instruction of strong and faithful Christian leaders and friends who will “speak the truth in love.” (Eph 4:25)