The Parable of Wavering and Confident

In working on my book Untwisting Scriptures #4, which addresses sin-leveling (treating all sins as equal) among other things, I came across a parable I had written for this book years ago. Ultimately I’ve decided not to use it in the book, but I would love to have your thoughtful input about it here. What answers would you give?

***

Two men, Wavering and Confident, walked together up a road, the High Way to God, which was bounded on both sides by a fence. The fence was low and easy to step over, but the signs along the way very clearly proclaimed “No trespassing.” On the other side of the fences lay the life they had left, full of interesting-looking and sometimes beautiful fruit with the peculiar quality of making a person sick sooner or later. Farther out, they knew, were very dark places that couldn’t be seen from the road, full of fruit that was hideously ugly and extremely poisonous but somehow intensely attractive.

There was fruit on the High Way too, to be sure, rich and nourishing, delicious and deeply satisfying. The only problem, if you could call it a problem, was that it was invisible, and one had to trust the Lord of the High Way to make it available.

Wavering occasionally reached out or even stepped over the fence for a moment to eat a bite of the forbidden fruit along the edge of the path that looked so interesting and attractive.

Don’t do it, Wavering

Sometimes he felt an immediate agony in the pit of his stomach. But even when he didn’t, his conscience gripped him, he came to his senses, he cried out to God to forgive him and help him, and he stepped back.

Confident, who was still in the path, looked down on Wavering and scorned him.

But at night while Wavering slept, Confident strode far, far afield into the forbidden territory and ate all kinds of sickening fruit. Inside he was rotting, but outside he managed to maintain the same confident appearance.

Every morning when Wavering awoke, Confident was there, continuing to silently scorn him for the times in the past that he had reached out for the forbidden and sickening fruit.

The two pilgrims continued their journey and joined others along the way.

Confident began to preach sermons to the group who traveled together. He preached especially about the wickedness of even thinking about wanting to step over the fence for a bite of forbidden fruit. Wavering knew he had had thoughts about wanting to step over the fence, and had even done it sometimes. He felt wracked with guilt.

At night, while Wavering slept, Confident went farther and farther away into darker and darker places.

Confident preached about how because all those who were on the High Way to God were forbidden-fruit-eaters and all have stepped over the fence, it was hypocrisy to point the finger at someone else’s trespass when you know you’ve trespassed yourself. Wavering listened to this wise preaching and nodded. He knew he had sinned, that was for sure.

Then one night, in the middle of the night, Wavering woke up. Confident wasn’t in the group. There was only one place he could have gone, and Wavering waited for him to return.

In the dim light of the distant carnival, he saw him coming, from far, far away, across the forbidden territory. For the first time, Wavering’s heart became angry about something other than his own sinful soul.

“Where were you?” he asked.

“I was just out there,” Confident responded confidently.

“You went into the forbidden territory,” Wavering said.

“So? You have too!”

“But . . . but . . . I only stepped over for a moment for the fruit that was right at the edge . . . and you went way, way out there into the darkest places. And you’ve been here preaching to everybody about forbidden fruit!”

“So? What are you getting at?” In the early morning dawn, Wavering could see Confident’s eyes narrowing into thin slits.

Wavering sputtered and fell silent. He didn’t know how to put his thoughts into words.

It had been so engrained in him. Any stepping over the fence was a trespass. All of it is an affront to God. So what difference did it make if it was just one step or if one went into the very darkest places and ate the most vile fruit?

Wavering didn’t know what to say.

The next day, Confident preached on the Scripture, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” As he preached with his deep and eloquent voice, his eyes bored into the eyes of Wavering.

Wavering knew he had eaten the forbidden fruit. But what Confident had eaten was worse, wasn’t it? Or was it? He didn’t want to cast any stones. Or did he? Maybe he did. He couldn’t figure it out.

As time passed, Confident elaborated on his doctrine, even preaching that those who stayed faithfully in the path but who looked with curiosity at the other side of the fence or even thought about taking forbidden fruit were sinning just as much as those who lived over there and ate the various kinds of forbidden fruit all the time. In fact, everybody, no matter what, was just as tainted with the poison of forbidden fruit as everybody else.

Wavering began to feel smaller and smaller and more and more confused. For fear of being a hypocrite, Wavering refrained from telling the others about Confident’s double life, Confident continued to preach, and Confident continued to spend his nights far afield in the darkest places eating the most vile fruit.

And as the situation worsened, the presence of the Lord of the High Way, as well as His rich and nourishing and truly delicious (though invisible) fruit, seemed to become harder and harder to find.

***

What is the solution? What would you say to Wavering? What would you say to Confident? Or the others with them?

 

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Bonnie
Bonnie
1 month ago

This is so interesting, and I think I see where you’re going with it in terms of how people become intimidated and susceptible to abuse. I love that it is like Pilgrim’s Progress.

My thoughts are that Wavering actually has a stronger faith than Confident and a softer, more humble heart, which perhaps makes him susceptible to Confident’s bullishness. But it’s interesting that when he hears Confident preach about hypocrisy, he doesn’t think of Confident’s own hypocrisy. Confident preaches that it’s wrong to point fingers at other sinners, yet he’s been looking down on Wavering for occasionally stepping over the fence, while he himself goes far over it, frequently.

I would tell Wavering to keep his eyes on the High Way and ignore Confident’s preaching. Perhaps he could suggest to Confident that he is endangering himself by going so far afield, but Confident would likely not listen and would scoff. (Proverbs 23:9) Confident is clearly protecting himself in a worldly way from censure by censuring others first. But Wavering could try to protect others along the way by quietly telling them what he’s seen Confident do, and advise them to ignore Confident as well. Eventually, Confident will reap the “rewards” of his actions, but it is in God’s hands.

Lauren
Lauren
1 month ago

Wow! So thought-provoking!

Jane
Jane
1 month ago

Hypocricy is the worst sin! I am confused about this, though… Jesus seemed to say that temptation (committing adultery in your heart?) is just as bad as actually doing it?…. or am I missing something?
It seems that God would be more interested in what we do, not in what we desire to to… especially if we don’t do what we desire to do. Jane

Lila R Feldman
Lila R Feldman
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca Davis

That idea can be so tormenting to someone with a scrupulous conscience, the belief that anger is equal to murder, or that adultery of the heart is the same as adultery. Those verses from Matthew 6. That is a scripture that gets twisted. I think that Jesus was just trying to tell us to mind the state of our hearts.

Noemi Kalath
Noemi Kalath
1 month ago

I don’t know how to respond to this in terms of the parable, but this is what I would say.

I think the solution is to have a Biblical understanding of what a Christian is and isn’t, and what sin looks like in a genuine Christian VS. a falsely converted one. You shall know them by their fruit.

One thing that needs to be addressed is that the Bible doesn’t level all sin to be equally evil. Yes, any sin ultimately condemns us before a Holy God, but we see in the OT laws that God has various levels of punishments for different sins, which tells us they’re not all the same. In the NT, Jesus talks about how certain cities will be worse off than Sodom and Gomorrah on judgment day. Some sins are more evil than others.

There’s a difference between knowingly rejecting Christ and walking in darkness VS. being tempted and falling into sin and battling the flesh or remaining sin. The true Christian is in a battle over sin, and we may not always have victory in every battle but we will grow in our sanctification. That’s vastly different from someone who professes to be a ‘Christian’ but is willingly and knowingly or secretly returning to his own vomit because he actually still loves his sin.

Also, intent matters. Malicious intent will look different from someone who unwillingly sinned and is genuinely remorseful and repentant over sin and striving to overcome it. Jesus on the cross said “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.” But what if they DO know exactly what they are doing, like with abusers who are very calculated in their tactics? Jesus treated the unrepentant arrogant pharisees very differently from sinners who knew they were sinners and and hungered for righteousness.

Hypocrisy is also something that is commonly misunderstood. No, we’re not all hypocrites as the Bible uses the word. The Bible means it as a ‘play actor’ or someone who is living a double life or a pretending Christian. Hypocrisy in Scripture is not in reference to someone who is inconsistent or doesn’t live out the Christian life perfectly. When the Bible talks about the hypocrite it is actually talking about someone who is still condemned.

To Wavering I would say, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32) and “a bruised reed He will not break”. (Isaiah 42:3)

To Confident I would say, ‘Watch out for that hardened heart! You can get to a point where you can no longer repent–in this life!.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)

There’s more that could be addressed here, false guilt VS. real guilt, boundaries with toxic people who project their shame on others, how Jesus deals with shame, misuse of Scripture about judging and confronting sin, etc. But I think ultimately it comes down to, what is a real Christian? What does true repentance and regeneration look like? Once the real Christian is identified clearly, that will validate and strengthen the assurance of the real believers and will expose the false ones.

Wild Honey
Wild Honey
1 month ago

I think I’d ask if Confident is really intending to get to the City of God, after all. Or is he just using the High Way to God as a perceived shortcut to the City of Fame and Wordly Accolades (which in real life turns out to be only a mirage)?

Cynthia Wintermyer
Cynthia Wintermyer
1 month ago

A good analogy.
Confident has built his house on the sand and is deceived by our adversary and not only that, he has chosen to lead others astray as well. 1John speaks exactly to this situation.
We are called to rebuke those who sin, therefore the most loving thing Wavering could do would be to publicly rebuke Confident—the consequences of that are up to God. However, fear and foggy confusion characterize the oppressed person and he/she feels unable, incompetent and/or unqualified to rebuke. This is one of the reasons why we cannot make this pilgrimage alone and why we so badly need our Christian sisters and brothers to walk with us through the trials and tribulations we all will suffer.
I’ve recently been watching a film on the rise of the Christian church in Africa—they do this so much better than we do here in the west. We could really learn from their humility and honesty as they share their burdens with each other.

Julie Kong
Julie Kong
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca Davis

Me too

Dee
Dee
1 month ago

Love this!
Please untwist it for us.

Brenda
Brenda
1 month ago

I would validate Wavering’s concerns and discernment.  I would substantiate them with Scripture. 

I would try to help Wavering see that Confident was trying to control and snare him, and that staying under Confident’s spell would do Wavering harm.

I would introduce Wavering to trustworthy shepherds who work to empower believers in their understanding of the Scriptures and in their own discernment and decisions. 

I would help Wavering to see that he needed to guard his own power, not relinquish it to controllers.

Zee
Zee
1 month ago

This also reminds me a little of the parable of the Prodigal Son. How the “non-prodigal” son harbored anger and resentment when their father ran to forgive the returning prodigal son after he’d squandered his inheritance and lived in sin.
The sin-leveling of Confident reminds me of the non-prodigal brother. He points the finger at the more egregious sins of his repentant brother. Confident preempts any exposure of his unrepentant secret sins by accusing all the others of their many sins of thought and deed. He had arrogance and superiority with no bothered conscience about his secret sins.
But Wavering had a conscience that bothered him when he did disobey. He felt awful physically and spiritually. Like the prodigal son Wavering knew his sins made him a disappointment to the Lord of the High Way.
Then the parable has parallels to victims of abusers. They are bullied into staying silent about their abuser because the abuser as well, often, as church people. They are made to feel THEY are sinning by speaking out about hypocrisy and secret sins. So they suffer in silence and the abuser is celebrated as a saint in good standing in the church and community.
It is hard and costs a great deal to expose hypocrisy in the church. It won’t often be welcomed. Even though the Bible instructs us to expose and expel and not associate with or even eat with a professing brother or sister who is sinning habitually and unrepentantly. Often, the victim exposing the hypocrite is treated as the sinner/“gossiper”. And maybe even is expelled from the church instead of the hypocrite sinner.
But obeying God is paramount. We don’t live to please man or the church. So Wavering should not stay silent about what he knows about Confident. He needs to protect the rest of the “flock” from a wolf among them.

Patsy Gaffney
Patsy Gaffney
1 month ago

Both Wavering and Confident are living a lie. They have no desire for the good things the Lord has provided because they are not hungry, as they have already been filled with what was easy to come by outside the boundaries. Wavering is feeling a little more confident, but he is almost resentful because Confident has stepped out further than he has.They both need to confess their sin, repent, cease their wandering, ask for forgiveness and return to the narrow path that leads to righteousness. What I would say to both of them is, “Y’all need to stop this mess!”

Lila
Lila
1 month ago

I like the parable. It sounds like Pilgrim’s Progress.

Not sure if there are better ways to illustrate the concept of serious sin, versus less serious sin. But it’s still a good parable.

I like the illustration of sin and of the forbidden fruits, that confident keeps running after. Whereas wavering picked a little fruit, realized that it wasn’t good, and then stopped, Confident kept going.

When I think of wavering and Confident, I think not only of people who have gone into serious sin, but I think in general about the types of people I meet in church. I have met people like Confident, who may not be ins serious sin, but definitely are very intense personalities, very arrogant, self-assured people. People who don’t have a lot of weaknesses, and don’t admit to them. They would look at people like Wavering and say that he has weak faith. Perhaps, what they deem as weak faith is really just a healthy awareness of reality.

Lila R Feldman
Lila R Feldman
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca Davis

There are many ways to approach this topic. It’s like the Parable of the talents but in the other direction. We reap what we sow. And we can store up a big sin debt. Wondering if there’s a way to use the image of gain and loss, reward and merit. The Economy of Salvation.

Julie Kong
Julie Kong
1 month ago

I’ve not read the other comments yet. But these are some initial thoughts (and I really appreciated the parable!)

I don’t so much think in terms of solutions but more along the lines of: go to Jesus, listen to *his* voice- his sheep know his voice. He guides them. He feeds them with all truth. I’d start there.

Looking forward to reading others’ comments now.

Catherine Curtis
Catherine Curtis
1 month ago

Very cute story. I certainly lived with that confusion of being marred to a hypocrite. He would point out my “sins of omission” and I’d feel bad , but never focused on his contempt for the family, his drinking, wife porn etc.
My solution was to leave him and eventually divorce him- so now his critical spirit and anger doesn’t affect me. Perhaps pilgram could too? Be brave and tell the group why first maybe. Maybe not, either way wavering is going to be lied about by confident–liers protect themselves no matter what.
So, what happens next Rebecca? Or do we keep writing our own story?

carla
carla
1 month ago

I love your examples. What I saw was Confident was a man of many lies. He was a self-righteous person, a deceiver. He wasn’t living what he preached and thought of himself much higher than Wavering. For me, I’ve been thought that sin is sin there is no degree to sin. And all of us, even Confident will make mistakes. None of us are perfect and all we have to do is go to God and ask for forgiveness and help to do better. I think Wavering should be open about what he saw with Confident. Confident will have to be accountable to God for those he taught. He has not been honest with the people. I’m sure he never thought of the eventual consequences before him either. Mostly, I see a very “self-righteous” arrogant individual who believes he’s superior. Gee, that sounds like the works of Satan!

Cathleen
Cathleen
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca Davis

This problem of sin in the thought life can be such a snare because of neurochemical reinforcement that occurs there. When repeated over and over the thought creates a well worn path, so easy to follow, becoming an almost inescapable trench. By then it is irresistible and the conscience is scarred or seared.
Bringing the thought life to Jesus regularly through habit creates a better path. Daily spontaneous praise to God, Bible meditation, singing of hymns as you go through your day, speaking to him as a friend right there with you all day long– these are the things that will overcome and make the thought paths of your mind straight, that you may enter in at the straight gate, not veering off to the wide (and likely twisted) road to destruction.
Perhaps there is some imagery here that can be used to lead Wavering to overcome.

Toni Stringer
Toni Stringer
1 month ago

Reminds me so
Much of the leadership in the church we attended for 35 years and even helped begin. We were faithful, involved and respectful of other leaders positions….the leadership was just like…CONFIDENT …. Everyone under the leadership was like Wavering….
Eventually WAVERING dared to ask legitimate questions concerning the different rules for leaders vs followers. That was NOT allowed or welcomed … then CONFIDENT started preaching directly to those who dared question and tried to bring shame on the WEAK AND WAVERing ones while covering up their own on purpose sins…. They took an entitled posture, as best I can describe it… a cover up, a shaming, a shunning…
CONFIDENT …did all theirs behind the pulpit and on social media …. WAVERING read everything in shock, knowing the truth but did not engage….did not back down, did not argue (all but one exception that fought back exposing the lies… the others tried to make it right privately but had to just walk away and escape the RELIGIOUS scam taking place that was hurting the innocent ones and the true seekers of truth… that make mistakes sometimes but use those mistakes to grow in the Lord and learn how to be a better discipline and follower of God. Not man.
Hope this makes sense.
There’s a lot more to the story. All very unfortunate.
Like (my mother is one of the elders, pastor, teacher and counselor!) she is the only one paid a salary besides the head pastor and she knew all that was going on but would not confront.) she’s 91. Says she’s too old to start over and will let those who did wrong fend for themselves. She refused to go to the aid of all that were sacrificed in order To protect themselves and their family members that were the cause of the problem. They have made no attempts to change for years but took the role of I’ll lead you just follow and trust us and mind your own business. You don’t understand.
Very condescending.
Openly blatant showing their true selves publicly. In other words they told off on themselves ! and then dared anyone to question.
Arrogance. But can preach such pretty words. And sing such pretty songs !
How are the doors to that place still open.

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