Friday, June 12, 2009

The Good News

I read this story in Anthony De Mello's "The Song of the Bird" last night. It's a great collection of wisdom stories. How does this one strike you?

Here is the Good News proclaimed by our Lord Jesus Christ:

Jesus began to preach in parables.

The Kingdom of God is like two brothers who were called by God to give up all that they had and serve humanity.

The older responded to the call generously, though he had to wrench his heart from his family and the girl he loved and dreamed of marrying. He eventually went off to a distant land where he spent himself in the service of the poorest of the poor. A persecution arose in that country and he was arrested, falsely accused, tortured and put to death.

And the Lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You gave me a thousand talents' worth of service. I shall now give you a billion, billion talents' worth of reward. Enter into the joy of your Lord."

The younger boys' response to the call was less than generous. He decide to ignore it and go ahead and marry the girl he loved. He enjoyed a happy married life, his business prospered and he became rich and famous. Occasionally he would give alms to the poor.

And when it was his turn to die, the Lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have given me ten talents' worth of service. I shall now give you a billion, billion talents' worth of reward. Enter into the joy of your Lord.

"The older boy was surprised when he heard that his brother was to get the same reward as he. And he was pleased. He said, "Lord, knowing this as I do, if I were to be born and live my life again, I would still do exactly what I did for you."

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6 comments:

Sue said...

Wheeee!!!!!

Love this :)

Sue said...

PS: What do you think of it? Did you post this because you like it or because you don't?

I liked the fact that no performance ends up being important, but at the same time actions are made even more meaningful because they are distilled down to love.

I posted this on my blog and someone responded that it sounded uncomfortably like Christianity to them, which I thought was interesting. I didn't see it that way.

Don said...

To me this states that what I was taught the greater part of my life was false. Performance doesn't matter to the Source. It looks good to us, but his unconditional love trumps our performance. It is our being that counts, not our doing. The only thing we need to be "doing" is expressed in Jesus' simple to say, but hard to follow injunctions: love God, and love each other as you would yourself.

brian said...

Sue,

I loved the story. Especially the reaction of the elder brother at the end. I thought that was a nice twist to what was expected.

This story sounds somewhat like Christianity but at the same time, I think a lot of Christians will be offended by it. In the gospels, we have a parable where Jesus talks about workers who did very different work each being rewarded the same (and very handsomely). I use this one on my girls all the time. Yet, oddly enough a lot of Christians have a performance mentality and I really think they think they are storing up "riches in heaven" as in material goods (cars, houses, etc) that they can enjoy as their reward after they die.

Another thing I liked about the story was the elder brother's reaction that his sacrifice was not a waste because he did not do it for the reward, he did it for love. Again, I think this is the Christian ideal. But, in practice, there are a lot of Christians moping around with sad faces sucking it up and "sacrificing for the Lord" so that the Lord owes them some reward after they die.


Peace,
Brian

Sue said...

I like the elder brother's reaction too, Brian :)

I got bible slapped big time yesteday online by a raised-in-the-faith-calvinistic-presbyterian (not that I like labels) for daring to think that perhaps there are truths that can be found within other religions. This is someone I have met a couple of times in person and who is a friend of the person whose facebook profile I was commenting on.

It brought home to me yet again, as if I need reminding, of how fear-based the performance mindset is. The dismissive way she spoke to me was disgusting. I suspect this person has very little faith of her own - she continually criticises my friend for searching, for questioning the "go to church every week this is what god requires of you" mentality.

I used to get defensive about being on the other end of that sort of thing when I was younger. Used to make me wonder if I was as heretical as people claim me to be. And yet now, I can smell the fear right across the ether and it makes me sad.

Is there any more of a chained bound prison than the one that has "Jesus" written on the outside of it and is actually hardly about him at all?

brian said...

Sue,

I've been there. One of the signs of a cult is they teach you to fear other teachings. They "innoculate" you by telling you others will oppose you and that if you listen to them, you are actually putting your "faith" in jeopardy. Extremely effective technique for keeping people bound. I still hear those voices whispering to me at times.

God doesn't fear questions. The Truth can stand up to any scrutiny.