Here is a chain email that provides a little insight into the Christian faith.
A Good Story
AFTER A FEW OF THE USUAL SUNDAY EVENING HYMNS,
THE CHURCH’S PASTOR SLOWLY STOOD UP,
WALKED OVER TO THE PULPIT AND,
BEFORE HE GAVE HIS SERMON FOR THE EVENING,
HE BRIEFLY INTRODUCED A GUEST MINISTER
WHO WAS IN THE SERVICE THAT EVENING.
IN THE INTRODUCTION, THE PASTOR TOLD THE
CONGREGATION THAT THE GUEST MINISTER WAS
ONE OF HIS DEAREST CHILDHOOD FRIENDS AND
THAT HE WANTED HIM TO HAVE A FEW MOMENTS
TO GREET THE CHURCH AND SHARE WHATEVER
HE FELT WOULD BE APPROPRIATE FOR THE SERVICE ..
WITH THAT, AN ELDERLY MAN STEPPED UP TO THE
PULPIT AND BEGAN TO SPEAK.
‘A FATHER, HIS SON, AND A FRIEND OF HIS SON WERE
THE PACIFIC COAST ‘ HE BEGAN.
‘WHEN A FAST APPROACHING STORM BLOCKED ANY
ATTEMPT TO GET BACK TO THE SHORE….
THE WAVES WERE SO HIGH, THAT EVEN THOUGH THE
FATHER WAS AN EXPERIENCED SAILOR, HE COULD NOT
KEEP THE BOAT UPRIGHT AND THE THREE WERE SWEPT
INTO THE OCEAN AS THE BOAT CAPSIZED.’
THE OLD MAN HESITATED FOR A MOMENT,
MAKING EYE CONTACT WITH TWO TEENAGERS WHO WERE,
FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE SERVICE BEGAN,
LOOKING SOMEWHAT INTERESTED IN HIS STORY.
THE AGED MINISTER CONTINUED WITH HIS STORY,
‘GRABBING A RESCUE LINE, THE FATHER HAD TO MAKE THE MOST EXCRUCIATING DECISION OF HIS
LIFE: TO WHICH BOY WOULD HE
THROW THE OTHER END OF THE LIFE LINE.
HE ONLY HAD SECONDS TO MAKE THE DECISION.
THE FATHER KNEW THAT HIS SON WAS A CHRISTIAN AND HE ,
ALSO, KNEW THAT HIS SON’S FRIEND WAS NOT.
THE AGONY OF HIS DECISION COULD NOT BE MATCHED BY THE
TORRENT OF WAVES.
AS THE FATHER YELLED OUT, ‘I LOVE YOU, SON!’
HE THREW OUT THE LIFE LINE TO HIS SON’S FRIEND.
BY THE TIME THE FATHER HAD PULLED THE FRIEND BACK TO THE CAPSIZED
BOAT, HIS SON HAD DISAPPEARED BENEATH THE RAGING SWELLS
INTO THE BLACK OF NIGHT.
HIS BODY WAS NEVER RECOVERED.
BY THIS TIME, THE TWO TEENAGERS WERE SITTING UP
STRAIGHT IN THE PEW, ANXIOUSLY WAITING FOR THE NEXT WORDS TO COME
OUT OF THE OLD MINISTER’S MOUTH
‘THE FATHER,’ HE CONTINUED, ‘KNEW HIS SON WOULD
STEP INTO ETERNITY WITH JESUS AND HE COULD NOT
BEAR THE THOUGHT OF HIS SON’S FRIEND STEPPING INTO AN ETERNITY WITHOUT
JESUS.. THEREFORE, HE SACRIFICED HIS SON TO SAVE THE SON’S FRIEND. ‘
HOW GREAT IS THE LOVE OF GOD THAT HE SHOULD DO THE SAME FOR US..
OUR HEAVENLY FATHER SACRIFICED HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON THAT WE COULD BE SAVED….
I URGE YOU TO ACCEPT HIS OFFER TO RESCUE YOU AND TAKE A HOLD OF THE LIFE LINE
HE IS THROWING OUT TO YOU IN THIS SERVICE.’
WITH THAT, THE OLD MAN TURNED AND SAT BACK DOWN IN HIS CHAIR AS SILENCE
FILLED THE ROOM.
THE PASTOR AGAIN WALKED SLOWLY TO THE PULPIT AND
DELIVERED A BRIEF SERMON WITH AN INVITATION AT THE END. HOWEVER, NO ONE RESPONDED TO THE
WITHIN MINUTES AFTER THE SERVICE ENDED, THE TWO
TEENAGERS WERE AT THE OLD MAN’S SIDE.
‘THAT WAS A NICE STORY,’ POLITELY STATED ONE OF
THEM, ‘BUT I DON’T THINK IT WAS VERY REALISTIC FOR A FATHER TO GIVE UP HIS
ONLY SON’S LIFE IN HOPES THAT THE OTHER BOY WOULD BECOME A CHRISTIAN.’
‘WELL, YOU’VE GOT A POINT THERE,’ THE OLD MAN REPLIED,
GLANCING DOWN AT HIS WORN BIBLE. A BIG SMILE BROADENED HIS NARROW FACE..
HE ONCE AGAIN LOOKED UP AT THE BOYS AND SAID, ‘IT SURE ISN’T VERY REALISTIC,
IS IT? BUT, I’M STANDING HERE TODAY TO TELL YOU THAT STORY GIVES ME A
GLIMPSE OF WHAT IT MUST HAVE BEEN LIKE FOR GOD TO GIVE UP HIS SON FOR ME.
I WAS THAT FATHER AND YOUR PASTOR IS MY SON’S FRIEND.’
This story most certainly has a peculiar twist. Here the Christian thinks it more important to save the “unsaved” than the “saved.” After all, what happens to a saved person when he or she dies? They go to heaven? Is that something that should cause us alarm? Of course, death does frightens all of us, even Christians. We fear the unknown, and we do not want to lose the people we love.
Should the father have saved his son or his son’s friend? I don’t know. Since very few have ever been faced with such a dilemma, I seriously doubt we need to worry too much about it.
Snopes.com has an interesting write-up on the tale, The Anquishing Choice. They also don’t worry overmuch about the ethics of the father’s decision. Nonetheless, they are quite critical of tale, categorizing it as “glurge.” They don’t like the literary style, and they endeavor to prove that this glurge is a knockoff of a tale told by a famous author, Alistair MacLean. In addition, they subtly criticize the basis for the decision, implying the father forced his choice upon his son.
Unfortunately, even though they hold it up and look at it — virtually stating it — Snopes.com misses the point. The father considered his son already saved. Christ had saved him.
Just as Christ loved us enough to sacrifice his life for us, we should also love each other.
Matthew 5:43-48 (Today’s New International Version, ©2005)
Love for Enemies
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Whenever we wonder what has held American society together, we should not ignore our Christian heritage. Will you find such stories told in non-Christian nations? Would the The Anquishing Choice make any sense to a non-Christian. When even the tale by Alistair MacLean that Snope.com cites in The Anquishing Choice must seem strange to non-Christians, that is something to think about.