Sermon illustrations, like babies, come in two types.
Figurative illustrations are comparisons: metaphors, similes, analogies. To illustrate anger figuratively, I might compare it to gunpowder.
Literal illustrations are examples: To illustrate anger literally, I might tell about when I lost my temper and broke a glass.
Before this powerful pair took on meaning for me, I would ask, How can I illustrate this point? Now I ask both How can I illustrate this literally? and How can I illustrate this figuratively? I then select the best to suit my purposes.
Here are some advantages of the figurative illustration:
1. Insight. Comparisons bridge from what listeners know to what they don't know. Comparisons penetrate the essential nature of something; what listeners have personally experienced, they understand at a level that transcends words.
2. Association. If I illustrate from the game of basketball, I touch listeners' memories, attitudes, and emotions associated with the game. The mind of a listener ...1