Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Parable of the Kingdom

Once there was a king who had three sons. He was determining who should rule after him, so he gave them each a portion of his vast kingdom, and told them to rule well. As good sons, they came to him and said, "Father, you are the great king, all wise and just. Please tell us how to rule as you have done."

The Emperor looked at each of them from his throne and said, "Write down what I say and you will know all that is necessary to rule: Sovereignty. Justice. Mercy. Sacrifice. Love. Peace. Understand these words and you will rule well." The three sons were a bit mystified, but all were confident that, given time, they would be able to understand the meaning of the Great King, and rule well.

After a year, the King called his sons back and asked them how they ruled.

The first son said this: "After some time of considering your words and spending time with your subjects, I realized that they were faithless and stupid. Then I understood your words. I am the sovereign and I must rule strongly. I must deliver justice to the people, punishing them for their sins. However, I must remind them that you, O King, are merciful and do not want them all to die. However, they must learn to sacrifice their wills to Yours, and thus learn to Love each other by loving the Law of the land. Only then there will be Peace."

The King replied, "And I understand that you punished all, for all were unworthy in your sight. This is not my rule of mercy. You are dismissed."

The second son said, "I, too, considered your words, my King, and applied them to my rule. I realized that I am not the sovereign, but You are, O King. I am only here to dispense your justice and mercy to the people. Thus, I sought to apply your law precisely, punishing the wicked and rewarding the obedient. I taught them to sacrifice their possessions to me, so that I might re-distribute them in love. And then we achieved the peace of having all needs met."

The King replied to the second son, "Because you took all land and all possessions from my people, you made them all poor, grudgingly giving back to them. This is not my rule of justice. You are dismissed."

Finally came the primary servant of the third son, and he said, "I regret to tell you, my Lord, that your son is dead. This is what occurred: He also, considered your words and he realized that he himself was given sovereignty over your people, which was a noble task, of which few are worthy. He saw the poor of your land being oppressed and the wealthy squandering their power on their own indulgence and distractions. But rather than punish them, your son remembered your word, "sacrifice" and realized that he must sacrifice himself for all the people. So he took all the power and wealth you gave him, traveled around the country and taught all the people how to share possessions, how to see with compassion and how to love each other with one's own heart. In this way, he created peace among all who listened to him.

"I wish that were the end of the story. His brother, the first son, came to his land and stirred up the wealthy, claiming that the third son was not obeying your will. They lied about him and persecuted him gladly, for he was telling them the only way to follow your will was to sacrifice their possessions and power. Because he threatened all power, the other king spurred the powerful to kill your third, innocent son."

The King bowed his head and tears came to his eyes. "Yes, I have heard all of these tidings. My son," and he turned to the first son, "You are cast from my presence. I never want to see you again. You were never interested in my will, only in punishment." Then the King turned to the servant, "Little one, because you have loved my son, my son who followed my heart of compassion, then I proclaim you to be King over all of my lands."

The servant declared, "But my Lord, I am not worthy!"

The King chuckled, "Of course you are not. But anyone who has my heart at least deserves the chance to become worthy. Worth isn't in correct interpretation, nor in delivering justice. Worth is found in seeing others' needs and doing all you can to meet them."

This parable is not about Christianity, per se. Nor is it about the atonement and how it works. Rather, it is about how one interprets the Bible. The Bible is confusing and difficult. There are a number of things that don't make sense. The one who understands the Bible correctly is the one who has the heart of the Father, following the example of His Son.

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