Saturday, July 06, 2002

A Story

There once was a family with two sons. One son was dutiful and obedient, while the other was rebellious and difficult. The parents tried to teach him the rules, but he would not obey.

As the rebellious child grew older and began to think himself wiser than his parents, he became even more difficult. He took to treating people poorly, fornicating freely, and even cheating friends out of their money.

His parents were at a loss, and so they asked his brother to help him: maybe the rebellious son would listen to someone who was more like him, and less like a parent. The brother agreed, and set out to find his troublesome brother and talk to him.

It happened at this time that the difficult son was in bar. Though his parents had tried to teach him not to drive drunk, he often did. They had told him they would come get him, no matter where he was, or pay even an expensive bill for a cab, if only he wouldn't do this thing that put his life so at risk. At various times, they threatened to withhold other financial support, sent him to treatment programs, and did all a parent can do for a child to make him stop. But the sad truth was, the boy was the kind of alcoholic who revels in his drunkenness.

The dutiful son found his brother in the sort of dark, anonymous bar he usually drank at, surrounded not by friends or even companions, but only other drunks. He spoke to his brother, alternating between a stern tone and an affectionate one, trying to convince him to change his path. The rebellious brother simply got angry at this interference, and stormed out, heading for his car. His brother stopped him, and demanded the car keys, and they wound up in a fistfight. After realizing the futility of the fighting, the good son stopped demanding his brother's keys, but insisted that he was going to ride with his brother, at least to try to get him home safely. The troublesome son, realizing that this was the easiest way to be done with the fight and rid of his brother, agreed.

On the way home, the difficult child drove too fast and spun out on a wet patch. His brother was ejected from the car and killed. He remained inside it for the fire that took his life too.


A giant obstacle for many non-believers is the idea that God chooses who is saved and who isn't. To them, Salvation is an arbitrary action of a perverse ruler, and so, patently false. If it were so, I too would reject it.

But Salvation is really a path, and walking it is really a choice. God as Father has told us what the path is, spent millennia begging us, cajoling us, threatening us--doing all the things any parent does--to get us to stay on the path. Finally, he sent us Himself in the person of His Son, that we might hear the message from a brother who is like us, and like Him. That Brother stands next to us every day, offering his hand, asking for the keys to the car.

Ultimately, it is up to us to hand over the keys, to take the path that gets us home safely. But God will not make us do what He wants: that would violate the rules he established, that every parent establishes. He will teach us what we need to know, holding our hands at first, but gradually letting us walk on our own.

God does not choose who will be saved and who will not anymore than the parents in the story chose to let their son die. As they sent their other son out to help, so Christ was sent to help us find the Way. The parents did everything possible to ensure their son lived, but he chose not to. So it is with Salvation.


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