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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Making the Old New Again

Once upon a time, First Baptist Church had a guest speaker. He was a bit odd, this man. He was so young, yet he spoke passionately about the Father and how each one of us is precious and fit into a Master plan that is beyond our comprehension. When he closed his eyes and spoke of Heaven, it was as he were speaking of his fondest childhood memories. When even the elders asked him about particularly troubling passages in the Bible, he would fix his eyes upon them with uncomfortable intensity and reveal the simplicity of God’s command for man – “Come back to me,” the young man said was God’s prayer for every man.

Of course, the residents of Amen Corner were not happy with this guest speaker. He didn’t dress properly or speak properly. His prayers were short and simple. His sermons were dripping with moral relativism and lacked any hint of hellfire. The young people laughed in joy as he taught them about his revisionist view of God. One of them finally pulled his disobedient teenage daughter before the congregation and challenged the man.

“This woman committed adultery,” he said angrily. “She has broken the commandments by bringing shame and dishonor upon her father and her father’s house. Explain to her why she must be punished for this.”

The man looked up briefly, then dug his hand into his jeans pocket and took out a pocket knife. He appeared to take a sudden interest in the dirt under his fingernails. The elder fumed in silence and the congregation sat in rapt attention.
“She is pregnant!” the elder screamed. “Tell her it is punishment for her crimes. Today I found her sneaking off to Planned Parenthood with an abortion facts leaflet in her pocket. Tell her that she is doomed to Hell if she heaps sin upon sin upon sin. TELL HER!”

The preacher walked down from the pulpit and handed his knife to the man. When he spoke, his voice was soft, but clear. It carried all the way to the farthest corner of the sanctuary.

“The Law of God demands that the father exact retribution from the flesh of an unruly child. The penalty for adultery and for dishonoring one’s father is death. The knife is in your hand. You have the power to stop her from seeking an abortion, just as you once held the power to impart to her the wisdom to prevent her pregnancy. If you truly believe you have no responsibility for her action, then your hand should be quick and sure.”

He then knelt at the altar in a position of prayer. The man looked at the knife in his hand, then at his daughter. “Don’t come home ever,” he snarled at her and stabbed the point of the knife into the prayer rail. Turning on his heel, he left the church, pulling his sobbing wife behind him.

After a time, the young man stood and looked around. The now homeless pregnant girl was still standing before the congregation, crying. He slid an arm around her shoulders and asked softly, “Where is your father?”

“He left me,” she said, almost sobbing.

“Ah,” he said, “I would say that you are nearer to your true father now than ever. Now the man who would put himself as God’s gatekeeper has left his post. Is there no one here that will take his place?”

He looked out at the congregation, then back at the young woman. “Then I will not take his place, either. You are free to approach God and seek his guidance.”


Please read the Gospel of John, Chapter 8 through the eleventh verse. You can find it here.

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