An old joke says that a salesman died and was given a chance to visit both heaven and hell before choosing where to spend eternity. The devil gave him a tour of hell, where everyone was singing, dancing, and having a good time. Next, St. Peter showed the man heaven. Its inhabitants sat idly on clouds, playing harps.
“Hell looks like a lot more fun,” the man said. “I’ll go there.”
The next morning, he was ushered in. As the door opened, there was nothing but flames and torment. “What’s going on?” the deceased salesman asked. “This isn’t what I saw yesterday.” The devil replied, “Yesterday you were a prospect. Today you’re a customer.”
Religion does something similar. Early on I was told that God was merciful and ready to extend forgiveness with no requirement on my part other than to believe. Only after I acknowledged assent was I given the nearly endless list of dos and don’ts. I was told how to act, speak, vote, and think … what to read, watch, hear, and say … where to go, what to do, who to make my friends.
For a time, I bought it all. Finally, however, the bondage of that man-made system became clear and the freedom of truth broke through.
Today I simply try to live a life pleasing to my heavenly Father – a disciple of his only begotten son, who is my example. I guess you could say I took my business elsewhere.
…His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
An old proverb reminds us “There’s God; then there’s not paying attention.” At their best, I think all the practices and rituals, the dos and don’ts, the chanting, singing and prayers are man-made tactics meant to draw our attention to God’s eternal presence. It was only when I cut out the middle man and communed with God directly did I feel that divine support and nourishment that transcended all earthly problems. I never looked at it that way before, but as “Customers And Disciples” puts it, I guess I took my business elsewhere, too.
Great post! Thanks for sharing your heart.