I have a fallen nature and my first thoughts and actions are to defend and indulge self, to make life as easy as possible to live and enjoy. I have no need for God or, for that matter, anyone else, unless He or they can benefit me in my self-centeredness.
Then I learn this direction has a definite end, which will not be pleasant—a thought that gets my attention since I want only the best for myself. How can I obtain this security of eternal happiness and peace? To my horror I learn I can’t under my current regime. I must give something up.
So I look over my options and see what things I love could be “sacrificed” to obtain this greater advantage. I come up with a short list and present them to this Arbiter of Destiny. To my surprise and joy He seems to be pleased with the list and encourages me into His presence.
I see a definite advantage in the arrangement. I hardly miss my few idols and practices for the benefits I am now enjoying in this new relationship. But I notice that there are other aspects of life that this current “contract” isn’t touching, so I ask Him about them, if I might possibly include them. (I am still very much concerned about self, you understand.) But I learn it would require some more “sacrifices.”
I look over my huge inventory of indulgences and come up with a few more I feel aren’t doing me much good anyway and present them. Again, He seems OK with my scanty list and makes the exchange. I notice, however, the result was not quite what I was hoping for, and confront Him on it. He simply stated (smiling) that I received what I paid for—give little, receive little.
Hmmm, this God doesn’t play games, I say to myself. Perhaps I need to rethink my priorities. So I go back to my inventory and weigh each indulgence to the value of the benefits this God offers me in His hand. What I notice as I keep whittling away at my treasures, the closer I get to my hard-core, “vital” indulgences the greater the benefit I get in return. The exchange is more than fair (actually, to my advantage I notice).
But a time comes when I look in my casket of indulgences and see nothing more that I can safely part with and still retain my self-interests. And as of yet I still haven’t touched the biggie, the one that got me started in this venture—that “definite end." It still frightened me. So I come to Him and openly tell Him my problem. I like how He seems to understand me.
It is at this point that I learn of something astounding. He tells me about an agreement He and His Father came to many eons ago.
“Wait a minute!” I interrupted. “You're telling me you have a Father and you two thought of people like me maybe millions of years ago?”
“Yes,” He replies simply.
“So what was the deal you came up with?” My curiosity is piqued.
“That Father would allow me to become a human and personally help you through and out of your problems.”
“So?” I ask. “What advantage is that to me?”
You can tell my old nature is still very much alive.
“Well,” He continues, “I can get you safely past that “definite end” problem you have, and MUCH MORE!”
Now this I like. My little exchanges were OK, but not really very satisfying. I mean, when I saw all that was yet in His hand. So I ask Him outright. “How can we work this out?” I didn’t see how I could part with my “vital” selfies, but maybe He has a way to get around those.
He hands me a black book that has the words “The Holy Bible” on it.
“Here, read this. It’s a way we can get better acquainted,” He says with a smile.
“That’s all? I don’t have to change anything or give up some of my most precious, ummm, well you know?”
He smiles again. “Just read the Book. Let’s just spend some time getting acquainted. That’s all.” Then He winks. “It’s free and I think you will like what you find.”
Boy, this is sounding pretty good. I can get all I see in His hand just by agreeing to get acquainted with Him through His Book? I decide to give it a try, and opened the black Book.
After hours of reading I learned something interesting. I thought the Book would tell me all about this God, and how great and big and powerful He was, but what I had been reading was mostly about people just like me, with all their selfie treasures, who have gotten acquainted with this Son. Many found that some of their selfies got in the way of a better view of Him and willingly gave them up, and, I must say, the results were impressive. But I wasn’t quite ready for that. But whenever I had time I would curl up in my favorite easy chair and read some more. I was really enjoying the Book.
It’s been some time now since I started reading it, and I’m into the part where the Son becomes one of us. Strange, I thought, that He would be willing to do that. That’s giving up quite a bit when you have a whole universe at your command. I wondered for what personal advantage? (Self, obviously, is still quite alive and well.) But as I continued I couldn’t find a reason, other than He wanted me to be His friend and neighbor.
What? He would be willing to become a mere human so that people like me could be His friends? Well, as I was drawn more into the story it got even worse! The people He came to save (from themselves, I learned) didn’t appreciate Him very much and they tried to undo everything He taught and did. If I remembered right these were the ones who didn’t want their selfies disturbed in the slightest.
I was really blown away by how it all ended. It wasn’t that they finally were successful in killing Him, but that He had a talk with His Father and agreed to go through with it, at great risk to Himself! He knew the whole host of demons would not take this killing thing lightly. They would do everything in their bag of evils to break His spirit and resolve to honor His Father, so my “definite end” would be certain.
It was there, I recall, that I took a new look at my bag of selfies. Maybe it really wasn’t MY bag after all, but those demons’ that afflicted the Son so mercilessly. They began to be repugnant to me, though something in me still cried out all the more for them. So I went back to the Son and told Him what was going on. He said He already knew all about it and had a plan ready, but I must invite Him inside first.
So I did. I invited Him into my life to be my Friend, but there were some selfies in the room that I was embarrassed about but didn’t know how to camouflage. I was surprised at His understanding, patience, kindness, and very loving spirit. He told me that if I were willing He could take care of those old selfies, but He wouldn’t do anything without my permission. It sounded very reasonable and fair so I struck up a gentleman’s agreement with Him.
The more I read the more I began to appreciate having Him as my friend.
In fact, one day I got a great idea. I decided to offer Him one of my biggest and most precious selfies. And to my surprise and joy He seemed almost excited and said, “Do you really mean it? Are you really giving this to me, that I can do with it whatever I want?”
Actually, I really didn’t miss it at all that much because it left a big room open that He was eager to fill with many things from His hand. And since it seemed to please Him so much I silently considered giving Him some more later.
My (former) friends were wondering why I gave up my favorite selfie so readily. “Well I found it wasn’t doing me any good and was taking up too much of my space and time, which I wanted for Him,” I told them.
They walked away shaking their heads and saying something about “legalism.”
I didn’t understand what they meant. I just wished they would get acquainted with my Jesus. Then they would understand.
Bob Blum has (nearly) retired from his handyman jobs in College Place, Wash., doing things for widows, single moms, and older people that big contractors didn't want to fiddle with. Now he fiddles with his website CounterpartStudies.com where he hopes to inspire others with the trove of blessings God has bequeathed to us as a last day church.