In inviting the first disciples to follow him, Jesus offered no perks, extended no bribes, and promised no tangible rewards. In inviting people to become disciples, we often offer perks, extend bribes, and promise tangible rewards. In fact, it might be fair to say our track record reveals we’ve prompted more interest in seeking after heaven (offered as a perk, extended as a bribe, promised as a reward) than following after Jesus.
The following “parable” from Peter Rollins’s The Orthodox Heretic invites its hearers/readers to reflect upon the nature of their own spiritual journeys: whether they are more interested in seeking heaven or following Jesus. I hope this parable stirs your heart and mind to wrestle with the purpose and meaning of your spiritual journey as it has mine.
You sit in silence contemplating what has just taken place. Only moments ago you were alive and well, relaxing at home with friends. Then there was a deep, crushing pain in your chest that brought you crashing to the floor. The pain has now gone, but you are no longer in your home. Instead, you find yourself standing on the other side of death waiting to stand before the judgment seat and discover where you will spend eternity. As you reflect upon your life your name is called, and you are led down a long corridor into a majestic sanctuary with a throne located in its center. Sitting on this throne is a huge, breathtaking being who looks up at you and begins to speak.
“My name is Lucifer, and I am the angel of light.”
You are immediately filled with fear and trembling as you realize that you are face to face with the enemy of all that is true and good. Then the angel continues: “I have cast God down from his throne and banished Christ to the realm of eternal death. It is I who hold the keys to the kingdom. It is I who am the gatekeeper of paradise, and it is for me alone to decide who shall enter eternal joy and who shall be forsaken.”
After saying these words, he sits up and stretches out his vast arms. “In my right hand I hold eternal life and in my left hand eternal death. Those who would bow down and acknowledge me as their god shall pass through the gates of paradise and experience an eternity of bliss, but all those who refuse will be vanquished to the second death with their Christ.”
After a long pause he bends toward you and speaks, “Which will you choose?”
What do you think?