(The cross of Jesus was embedded inside the template of his destiny and God’s divine will.)
Whenever I look around me, at me, and inside me, I am constantly bombarded by the awareness that we are all basically sinners living in the midst of other fellow sinners. Man, in spite of his intelligence and his progress in the quest of technological knowledge, seems to be deeply trapped by his human disorders and his obsessions with sensual pleasures, money, and worldly goods and power. Last week, I read the book, “Changes That Heal,” by Dr. Henry Cloud. In the first chapter, the author tells us an interesting story that is relevant to our modern times.
This learned author starts his book with a story about an highly-advanced people living in a distant galaxy. They had everything they could ever desire- technology to solve every problem and more leisure that they could handle. But they were bored with their lives to the point of being bored to tears. They simply needed something new and exciting to enliven life in their planet.
So they decided to set up a special committee to brainstorm for new ideas to accomplish this task. They had pondered on many ideas such as coming up with a new sport or developing a new amusement park. Finally, it was an alien named Beezy that proposed the winning idea of creating a god. The novel concept was an instant hit. Everyone seemed to love the idea So they tried to invent a god. But it proved to be an exercise in futility. Why? “Look, this is simply not working,” said Beezy. “What good is a god we can invent ourselves? We’re smart enough to know that this is not a real god. Why don’t we find us a god instead- like the God the earthlings worship?”
The committee agreed and supported the idea of sending Beezy to the Planet Earth to gather more information about the real God. Under his invisible cloak, Beezy visited uncountable churches and religious institutions. In his numerous interviews with people who managed these places, he obtained some interesting insights and jotted down copious notes for his report. When Beezy returned, he met with his committee and shared with them his observations and insights. “Fellow aliens,” he greeted them, “I have returned not with one god, but with two.”
Most of the committee members responded to his feedback with astonishment.
“The name of the first god , or should I say goddess, is Grace. Grace is an extremely attractive goddess. She talks about love often. She urges the people to love one another, forgive one another, and be nice to one another without any judgement. Then Beezy continued, “What I like specially about the followers of Grace is the way they practised their religion such as feeding the poor and visiting the prisoners in jail. But what puzzles me is that these disciples of Grace seemed so lost. They kept doing the same bad things over and over, and they never seemed to know where they were going.”
Beezy took another deep breath before he continued, “Then there is another god who is definitely a man. His name is Truth. Unlike Grace, Truth is mean and brutally honest. He kept telling his followers all sorts of things about them and made them feel really bad and rotten. Then his disciples also did and said the same thing as their master to make one another feel bad. Truth launched workshops and religious sessions to condemn the common vices such as lying, cheating, adultery, abortion, and drunkenness. He is like a big religious street sweeper, sweeping away all the bad things. But in the process of cleaning up the streets, Truth also sweeps away the people who do the bad things. Following the footsteps of their master, the disciples of Truth also judge and condemn the other human beings in their community.”
After hearing the report and pondered over it, the committee were ready for a decision on the new amusement park. They were in a dilemma because they did not like either god. But Beezy had one last suggestion. “We have all this wonderful technology for blending repelling elements like water and oil. Why can’t we try blending Grace and Truth?”
Grace is the first essential ingredient for human beings to grow up in the image of God. Grace is unearned, uninterrupted, and unbroken. It is a form of unconditional love. Grace is the unconditional love and compassion that God shows to all human beings. And he also urges his disciples to show and practice love to one another; forgive and accept one another and gave themselves freely; and connect with people who are in pain, to relieve their suffering and lived in togetherness.
However, those who worshiped Grace had only one major problem- they seldom heard the truth. As a result, they continued to fall into bad situations that required more and more grace. The grace of the goddess Grace has no limit but the followers needed more directions to keep them from falling into the same old patterns over and over again.
This is where Truth comes into the picture. The second god was very good at setting limits on bad behavior. Truth is the second key ingredient necessary for growing up in the image of God. Truth is what is real and it describes the issue or behavior as it is. Truth is the skeleton that life hangs upon and adds shape in everything in the universe. It is like the structure of God. God’s truth leads us to what is real and what is accurate. God’s truth contains the form that our soul and spirit should take. But truth has its own problems. He is mean. He has none of the compassion that is shown by Grace. Truth lacks forgiveness, compassion or mercy which are the attributes of Grace.
As Grace left Beezy wanting structure and reality, Truth left Beezy wanting love, kindness, and compassion.
(Adapted from the book, “Changes That Heal” by Dr. Henry Cloud, a clinical psychologist.)
Come to think of it, this is the reason why Jesus comes into the world to show us the Gospel of the Good News. Jesus comes to show us His way of unconditional love balanced with His truth. He has come to remind us that it is important to obey the commandments of God but it is equally if not more important to love one another; forgive one another; and accept one another as children of God. In his defining last message during the Last Supper, Jesus stresses to his followers, “Love one another as I love you; by this will you be known as my disciples.” This is surely the fitting Christmas message that Jesus wants all of us to believe and practice in our daily lives.
Submitted by Alphonsus YKKok