Friday, December 9, 2011

Advent: The Corporation

 There once was a billion dollar corporation which had just opened a new branch in a country that was in the middle of an economic depression. Thousands upon thousands of men and women applied for the jobs, thousands for every single position. In the end there was only three positions left, all with the same title and job duties.

The first person chosen for the job was an experienced person. She had many documents saying she was qualified. She had the training, job experience, and the education necessary to perform the job. They gave her an Employee Manual full of rules and regulations, and expected her to follow it.

The second person chosen for the job had worked hard to get her application noticed. During her interview she quoted the employee manual consistently and verbatim. She knew exactly what the company wanted and how they wanted it done. They still gave her a copy of the Employee Manual and expected her to follow it.

The third person chosen for the job didn't even apply. In fact she didn't deserve the job. She had no qualifications, and she didn't know what to do. She had no idea why they chose her, but in the end she still got the job. They gave her a copy of the Employee Manual and told her to follow it and everything would be fine.

Over the next few years each of them responded in a different way. The first person hired felt she was too good for the job. She felt like the company had come to her, not her to the company. She didn't care what was in the employee manual. She did everything how she felt it should be done, after all, she was good at what she did. In the end she was fired, because she didn't follow the rules.

The second person followed every single rule, just like a robot. She simply did what she had to do, and never anything more or less. She followed every word exactly the way it was written. In the end she too was fired, because she didn't produce for the company. They wanted more than the bare minimum.

The third woman realized that the company had chosen her, not for anything she had done, but out of generosity and heart. She tried her best to follow every single rule, even though she wasn't perfect and failed at times. She went above and beyond making sure the company came first, trying to repay them for the hope they had given her. She talked to others about the company and how generous they were and brought good, hard working, honest men and women to work there as well. All the while sharing as much as she could about the Employee Manual and what she had learned from it. She is still with the company and always will be.

You see the kingdom of Heaven is much like that corporation and the Word of God like the Employee Manual. Do we feel like we deserve Heaven because of all the good things we have done and how good we are? Do we feel sometimes like if we follow the book close enough, doing just exactly what it says and nothing more, then we will have to keep our position? Or are we like the third woman, who realizes we have done nothing to earn it, and likely shouldn't even have it.. but we work hard, try our best, and keep doing what we can to share it with others... that we do what we know we should, and as much as we can on top of that.. not because it gets us the job.. but because we love the One who gave it to us?

 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 1

In Christ,

1. Ephesians 2:1-10