I’d like to do something a little different today and share a parable by the theologian Peter Rollins. (Note: The language in the parable is framed toward Christians, but if that’s not your tradition, try to substitute language from your own religious or cultural tradition.) The parable goes something like this:
Imagine that you come to the end of your life and die. You have lived a full life. As best as you could, you have tried to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ in all that you do. You prayed that Jesus would forgive your sins and accepted Jesus into your heart when you were a child. And although you weren’t perfect, you did your best to live a life that was worthy of your calling from God.
After you die, you immediately find yourself in heaven, outside the throne room where all people are to be judged by God. You feel scared, but also excited to meet God face to face.
When it is your turn, you enter the throne room. Much to your shock and surprise, who you see sitting on the throne is NOT God or Jesus. Instead, sitting on the throne is actually the devil himself, a grotesque, menacing, frightening creature. The devil informs you that he has conquered heaven and cast God down into hell, where people are punished for all eternity. Similarly, he has cast Jesus Christ out of heaven and into the darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
He gives you a choice: If you are willing to bend your knee to him, he will allow you to stay in heaven, and live out your eternity in paradise. However, if you refuse, he will cast you down to hell forever. You will be with God, but suffer eternal torment.
What would you do?
(Note: If you liked this parable, you can find more of Peter’s parables here.)