Customers And Disciples

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.


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