Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chapter 9 - Repentance

Jesus got up from the fountain and Christopher immediately followed. Jesus began walking beside one of the many streams taking the water into other parts of the city. Christopher followed one stream with his eyes and saw that it lead into a part of the city with no building taller than three stories. There were great numbers of people walking from building to building.

Where are we going?” asked Christopher.

Jesus answered, “Everyone you see in this city is at a different level of understanding – no different than earth. The meaningful things they learned on earth help them progress faster[1]. Since they have no physical limitations, people are no longer impaired by their imperfect bodies so learning is greatly accelerated. However peoples ability to understand and accept truths is much the same as on earth. Some are resistant to knowledge that they disagree with so they debate and question the teachers. They are so used to their desire to prove themselves right, that their progress is inhibited. They cannot accept the fact that teachers here can only teach the truth.”

But how can they be assured that teachers will only teach the truth?” Christopher interjected.

This is not earth Christopher. Those who are called as teachers are infallible. They have proven themselves worthy and I know their hearts. There is no longer any need to doubt.”

Don't the teachers have their own opinions about certain subjects? Even though they are 'infallible' they may have differing opinions about subjects.”

It may be difficult for you to understand Christopher, but there are no debatable subjects here. The truth of what they teach is not a matter of opinion or theory – it is plain and simple truth. If they do not know the answer to a question because they have not learned that truth, they will refuse to give their opinion and let you know that they do not have an answer.”

What about different techniques to resolve complex problems? There is never a single perfect solution.”

Different approaches to problems exist on earth because of differences in learning abilities. Those things do not exist here. Laws are absolute and solutions are absolute. You just have to understand the variables and work through the problem.” said Jesus.

Christopher look puzzled – trying to understand this difficult concept. Certain things had absolute properties and solutions – but the majority of problems on earth did not.

Jesus continued, “Those who have faith sufficient to believe me, will drink in knowledge so quickly that they are able to rapidly progress. Those who cannot let go of their earthly ways are damned.”

Christopher quickly looked over a Jesus, “Isn't that a bit harsh?”

Jesus smiled. “Damned simply means that their progress is slowed or stopped. And it is the choice of the individual.”

Jesus and Christopher continued to walk along the path towards the complex of buildings. A few minutes went by when Jesus said, “I want you to understand this concept because this is the way of sin, repentance, and forgiveness. As we discussed – sin takes you away from God. God doesn't leave you, but you take yourself away from Him. Repentance is the process one goes through to humble themselves and recognize that they have withdrawn themselves from God – and to take the necessary steps to break the cords of sin and disobedience that bind them, and plead for forgiveness.”

Christopher was trying to understand the correlation between the previous discussion of learning and absolute truths, and sin and forgiveness. Then it hit him – those who were willing to accept the truth for what it was and drink in the knowledge freely given, could progress with nothing to hold them back. Similarly, those who were willing to accept the truth of sin and their participation in it, can repent, change, and be forgiven and then progress in their goal to be close to God and become more like Him.” Christopher smiled at the simplicity of it.

He quickly looked at Jesus. “It is completely up to the individual. We choose to be stubborn and hold ourselves back, or we can accept truth and move forward.”

Jesus smiled back at him – pleased that he had learned and understood.

Christopher continued, “Once we learn the source of truth, our progress can be uninhibited.”

Immediately he reflected on his life and began to look for applications of this truth. He could see many areas where he could improve – to cast aside his doubts and his desire to “not believe” which was holding him captive.

But then his mind began to think of his colleagues. How would they react to this? How could he possibly explain what he had seen here and what he had learned? He would be laughed to scorn. He would no longer be respected once he began speaking of God, sin, and forgiveness. If they could only be here to see this, then they too would understand. Then a horrifying thought came to his mind. What if others who had tried to get him to understand had known these same things and he had mocked them. He hadn't been very kind to many people as they tried to get him to understand. He was guilty of mocking their beliefs because he thought them uneducated, juvenile and naive. So many good people who just cared about him and he treated them with contempt.  Then he thought of Paige.  Dear sweet Paige, whom he had treated so poorly just hours ago.

The pain within him grew, and the people he had hurt were vividly displayed in his mind. “But I wasn't that bad.” he thought. I am much better than so many others. But the thought of this didn't bring any comfort. The fact that others were not as good or as brilliant as he was seemed irrelevant. “But it must be relevant.” he reasoned. “I am better than most!” he insisted.

Christopher looked around him. He was now in the middle of an impossibly crowded street. The people moving between buildings smiled at him as they walked around him. He hadn't realized that he had moved so far into the city. He looked around for Jesus, but couldn't find him. He began to get nervous, turning in every direction – standing on his toes for a better view over the people, but Jesus could not be found. He tried to push through the crowd but didn't seem to get anywhere – the throng seemed to go on forever in every direction. Although the people were friendly he felt like he didn't belong. He felt like a child again – in the schoolyard among people who were teasing him. But nobody here was doing anything of the sort, they all seemed so cordial. But why was he so uncomfortable?

He closed his eyes momentarily in an attempt to gain control. As he opened them, the scene had changed. He was once again among the miserable spirits he had briefly seen not long ago. He stood transfixed, not sure what to do. His panic heightened and his heart pounded within his chest. For a moment nobody seemed to notice him, but then a fierce looking man glared at him. Christopher's blood ran cold. One by one others around him stopped their hideous motions of fighting, arguing, and sexual acts and began to stare.

What are you doing here?” shouted the man, with more volume than was necessary.

Christopher looked from face to face, not knowing what to say. He didn't know himself why he was here.

The man repeated himself but this time even louder. “What are you doing here?”

Christopher stammered. “I.. I don't know. I don't even know where I am.”

You don't belong here. Leave us alone!” Others began shouting at him to leave. The language they used was angry and vile.

Christopher looked around for a way out, but just like in the city, there were people in every direction for what seemed like miles. More people turned to him and began shouting. One man swung at him and instinctively Christopher tried to move away, but he was too late. He saw the man's clenched fist like in slow motion, pass right through his head. As the fist passed through him, he felt a coldness that he could not describe. The man swung again and again and began to laugh. Others began to laugh as Christopher's look of panic grew. He closed his eyes tightly, and began to pray. “Please, take me away from this place.” he plead. He could feel the putridity of others as they were attempting to press in on him. He opened his eyes and shouted, “Please Jesus, take me away – I don't deserve this!”

At that moment, the people around him began to quickly fade, as though they were made of mist. The surrounding area was empty and quiet. As Christopher turned around he saw Jesus standing a few steps away. Jesus looked concerned.

Why did you not deserve that?” Jesus asked quietly.

Christopher was speechless, not understanding why Jesus wouldn't know why he shouldn't have been there among those disgusting spirits.

Jesus just continued to look to Christopher for an answer?

Christopher finally spoke. “I am not like them. I don't know why I was sent here.”

Why are you not like them?” asked Jesus.

I have not done the things they have done. I have kept myself clean – or at least cleaner than them.”

Are you not also a sinner?” asked Jesus.

Yes, I suppose I am, but I am not as loathsome as they are – not remotely.” said Christopher with obvious irritation.

So because you are not as bad as them, you think you deserve better?”

Christopher had already answered that question. He huffed, “Why aren't you listening to me?”

You are comparing yourself to others Christopher – you were judging them, placing yourself above them. Why do you think you have a right to do that? Do you know them? Do you know what their lives were like? Do you know where their hearts are? Do you know what they are going through?” Jesus looked around where just moments before there were millions of spirits. Then he looked back at Christopher. “What do you deserve?”

What do you want me to say? I cannot read your mind!” Christopher said sharply.

Jesus looked at the ground, took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He then raised his head and said, “It concerns me Christopher when people compare themselves to others. When someone thinks they are more deserving than others my heart is grieved. Within the last few minutes you have taken yourself from the head of the fountain to the depths of hell, because you thought of yourself as better or more qualified than others. It is a human frailty that has stolen many hearts from me. You have become accustomed to use your titles and qualifications on earth to prove your worth to fellow human beings. You demand respect and in the meantime, demean and degrade others because of their so-called lack of accomplishments or education. Then because you have kept yourself morally clean throughout your life in the midst of moral filthiness, you feel superior.”

For the second time in that many minutes Christopher felt like an awkward little child.

There is no room for pride in my kingdom Christopher. Any who feels they deserve to be here, do not belong. It is the great dichotomy.” Jesus smiled for just a moment, then grew serious and whispered, “Please don't remove yourself from me again Christopher. I love you too much.”

As Christopher gazed into Jesus' loving eyes, he felt tears come to his eyes. Emotion had not gotten the better of him since he was a child, but now the tears were flowing – and he didn't seem to mind. Jesus opened his arms to Christopher and they embraced. “I'm so sorry.” he plead between sobs. “I'm so sorry. Please forgive me.”

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