A Parable of Two Fathers!
By Raymond D. Sopp
A small child was playing in his yard with a large ball. The little one was quite content and happy bouncing his ball on the grass in the confinement of his play-yard. The yard was small, but the child knew nothing other than his yard -- until one day the gate to his play-yard was left open. Walking outside the confinement of his play-yard for the first time, the child became very excited. His eyes became enlarged, and a feeling of jubilation coursed through his body.
"What is this?" the child said to himself. "I have never seen a play-yard this large before; its boundaries are limitless, and look how high my ball bounces on this hard surface!" The child began to play. He never had so much fun! The ball bounced so high on the hard surface, and he could run forever without the confinement of his yard. The child exclaimed, "I have found a piece of heaven!" Yes, complete freedom from any boundaries at all. As far as he could see, there was the freedom to run and play. He thought, "I have never had so much fun bouncing the ball so high in the air, jumping, running, and skipping." Overwhelmed by this freedom, he thought there would be no end to his joy.
Suddenly, he heard his father's voice: "Son, get in the confinement of this yard right now!" The son thought to himself, "Why did my father sound so upset? Surely when I tell him how much fun I was having he will be happy for me and allow me to stay and play in this wonderful place. Truly my father would want me to be happy and have fun!" However, his father forbade his son to ever leave the confines of his play-yard again.
Confused, the son exclaimed, "Why does my father hate me so!? Father just does not understand how much fun I was having. This new limitless play-yard felt so good. Surely, anything that felt so good cannot be bad, can it? Surely if my father really loved me, he would want me to be happy!" However, the father was unrelenting.
A neighbor passing by saw how unhappy the small child was and asked him what was wrong. The son explained: "It's my father! He does not want me to be happy, or have any fun at all!" The neighbor exclaimed, "How terrible!" Quickly the neighbor confronted the child's father. "How could you take away this child's fun, his limitless freedom, and still look me in the eye and say you love him?" But, the father paid no attention to the neighbor's criticism and remained unrelenting. The father soon became the scorn of the neighborhood and was hated by all.
On the other side of town there was another small child having the same experience as the first. However, when his father saw him having so much fun, it made him very happy. He called to his neighbor and said, "Look at my son playing. He is having so much fun, and is so happy. My son is bouncing his ball so high, jumping, running, and skipping with freedom as far as his eyes can see." The neighbor thought to himself: "Oh! Look how much he loves his son -- allowing him to be so happy -- allowing his son the freedom to follow his feelings, and do whatever makes him happy. Truly this father is "enlightened" and knows how to be loving toward his son."
Suddenly, a crowd began to gather where the father last saw his son playing. When the father went to see what was going on, to his horror, he found his son dead. The new limitless play-yard the small child thought to be so wonderful was in reality a very busy street!
You see, the first father knew of the danger to his son, while the child knew only of the fun and nothing of the danger. The child thought his father hated him and didn't want him to have any freedom, or any fun. However, the truth was he loved his son more than himself and faced both the anger of his son, and the scorn of his neighbors in order to save his son from death. The father knew that his son, in his naivete, did not perceive the danger. Therefore, he was not angry with his son, nor did he hate his son; the father simply wanted to save his life. However, the neighbors, as naive as the child was to the dangers, perceived the father as evil and thought he actually hated his son.
The father of the second child was taken to court over the death of his son. The judge, knowing that the child's father was also ignorant of the danger, found him guilty only of reckless endangerment and child neglect. You see, to the judge, ignorance of the law or danger was no excuse. However, the father did receive a lesser penalty than if he had knowingly exposed his child to the dangers. If the father had known of the dangers to his son and said nothing, then the child's blood would be on his hands, and the penalty would have been much more severe.
You have probably guessed by now the first father represents God. Although God's discipline may seem unfair and unloving at times, we must never forget He truly loves us. When we do not understand God's dealings with us, we must remember He has a much better vantage point to see the danger which lies before us. So even if it "feels" really good, and we perceive no danger, we must trust God and allow Him to guide us. We already know by the death of His Son that God loves us, and wants us to live. When He disciplines us, He only wants us to share in His holiness and have abundant life -- eternal life (Hebrews 12:5-10).
The second father represents Satan himself. With one exception: Satan does know of the danger and he is more than happy to give us all the freedom we want. He'll even allow us to become like little gods, following our feelings, lust, and short sightedness to the point of death. Therefore, Satan's punishment will be of the severest kind. Yes, Satan loves to let you do anything that makes you "feel good," because then you are fulfilling his ideology, "do what thou will," unto death and hell.
We as Christians must be like our Father in heaven: loving people enough to tell them the truth, even if it means we will be hated by both them and this world. We will be looked upon as evil, unloving, against freedom of choice, and just no fun. The world may be encouraging people to sin, have abortions, or to be a homosexual, but we know they are playing in the street, about to face eternal hell and death. If we keep silent, knowing of the dangers, their blood will be on our hands (Ezekiel 33:6).
Jesus, being our example of true love, faced the hatred and scorn of this world, even unto death, in order to save both you and me. We can no longer hide our heads in sand -- staying silent for fear of man -- staying silent by having the desire to be liked by man. That would be loving ourselves more than others, the exact opposite of what Jesus taught us to do. Even the world find's it contemptible, and will hold us accountable, when we have knowledge of a worldly danger but then do nothing to warn people of that danger.
The world believes the definition of love is allowing you to do as you wish. Therefore, we should not be surprised that the world is following Satan's ideology: "Do what thou will!" However, it is not so with God. Those that He loves, He disciplines (Hebrews 12:6). Remember that God disciplines us to save, not to hurt. And Jesus, following the Father's instructions, came to earth to save, not to judge (John 12:47). Therefore, if we judge, we are no longer doers of the law (James 4:11-12). Nevertheless, as a Christian, if you speak out in order to warn and to save, you are fulfilling the law of God. Jesus would leave all ninety-nine sheep just to save the one that is lost (Luke 15:1-7).
Therefore, if you are filled with God's love, go into the highways and byways exposing sin as sin, not as a judge, but as one who loves -- as one who wishes none to perish, warning of the danger of eternal hell and death. Pray that God would give them eyes to see, and ears to hear. But if we know of the dangers, and do nothing and/or keep silent, we will be held accountable. If the time is truly as short as we think it to be, stop whatever you are doing! Pray for God to send His Holy Spirit upon each of us in order to touch the lives of those around us, and ask God where you can support a ministry that is doing so.
Today, I'm ashamed to say, a large number of Christians in the U.S.A. seem to be more interested in what God can do for "me", than the true cause of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). This is confirmed by the fact that most of the largest churches, and successful preachers today, teach health, wealth, and prosperity: a teaching which engages the hearts and minds of God's Church with the worries, cares, and riches of this world to the utter fruitlessness of the Church (Luke 8:14). These are the things the world seeks after (Luke 12:29-34). We should have more important matters to attend to. Jesus, when tempted by Satan, turned down all the riches of this world to suffer the cross for our salvation, thereby, worshiping God (Matthew 4:8-11).
Let us never lose sight of the reason God gave His only Son. It was not so we can live in palaces nor so we can meet in palatial cathedrals while the world goes to hell. It was to save lives (yes, even just one) from an eternity in hell, through the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus. As His Body, should we not begin to follow our Lord's example?
In John 17:15 Jesus prayed, "I do not ask to take them out of the world." Did Jesus want us to stay in this world to become rich, or to be the salt and light in this world? Being the salt and light in this world has always brought with it tribulation. So be prepared to count the cost and be prepared for this world to hate you (John 15:18-21). We, as God's Church -- as Christ's Body -- must become aware of the times we are living in or we will become as complacent as the people were in the days of Lot (Luke 17:28-30). As I look around at this world, and all its wickedness, I don't get angry; I weep because I know they are in danger of eternal hell and death.
From my heart to yours,
Raymond D. Sopp
All above Bible references are from The New American Standard Bible, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1977.
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