Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Wise Old Father – A Parable and a Puzzle

A wise old father had many children, one of which is you.

When the time came for the children to leave the home and make their own way in the world, the father called his children together to speak to them.

He said:

"My children, because I love you I want to give you my blessing before you go out into the world. With this blessing comes both obligation and privilege. Your privilege will be that you can call on me at any time for help wherever you are, I will be there for you. Your obligation will be to live your lives us I have taught you since you were young".

"However, although I love you all, not all of you have been chosen to receive this blessing. Tonight while you are sleeping I will place an envelope next to your beds. In the envelope you will find a letter from me, written either on white or black paper. If the letter is written on white paper, then you will know that you are one of the few that I have chosen to receive my blessing. It grieves me to say this, but those whose letter is written on black paper, will have to leave without my blessing".

Although the wise old father had already chosen which children he would bless, he added the following:

"Now it is time to sleep. Tomorrow, before you leave each of you will pass my workshop door. If you wish to receive my blessing, just knock, and I will invite you in. If you do not wish to receive my blessing then just leave without knocking".

The next morning each of the children wake up to find an envelope beside their bed. Each of them wonder as they hold the envelope, trembling in their hands, if the letter is written on white or on black paper.

Now remember that you are one of the children:

Soon it is time to leave and you are standing in the line before your father's workshop, with all your belongings packed to go. As you get closer you can see others as they come to the door. Some just walk straight past and leave without looking back, and some stop and knock.

But most stand for a while before the door contemplating, the envelope in their hands. They seem to have difficulty deciding whether to open the envelope first, knock on the door, or just walk out. You notice that whenever someone knocks on the door, it is always opened, and they go inside.

But then, with horror you notice something else:

Whenever someone opens the envelope as they stand before the door, the letter is always black!

Soon enough it is your turn to decide. What do you do? Do you, knock at the workshop door, leave without knocking or open the envelope?


What does it all mean:

The wise old father is God (of course).

His children are all the people of the world.

The blessing that the father wishes to give is eternal life to those who are saved.

Those children that leave without the father's blessing are the children that suffer eternal death, always separated from the father.

The envelope represents God's election. The doctrine of election teaches us that God chooses those that would be saved before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4).

The door of the workshop is the door of which Jesus says: seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened (Mat 7:7).

The story illustrates the fact that God's election does not take from us the burden of choice.

Lets look a bit behind the scenes. We have already seen that whenever a child knocked on the door the door was opened. But what about the letter?

When the letter was opened in the father's workshop it was always found to be written on white paper. In a similar manner, all those that walked out without knocking found that their letter was written on black paper.

But what of those that opened the letter before knocking or leaving? The paper was always black. What does this mean? I will come back to this shortly.

Firstly how does this information help us to make our own personal decision as we stand before the door. We have 3 options: knock at the door, walk out without knocking or open the letter.

Well, we know that if we knock, the door will be opened. So if we love the father and want his blessing all we have to do is knock. In this case, the contents of the envelope is irrelevant. Nobody who knocks is rejected!

On the other hand, if I do not want the fathers blessing and do not want to following his instructions, then I can just walk out without knocking. Once again, the contents of the envelope is irrelevant. The father cannot and will not stop us from walking out.

But what about those that opened the envelope before knocking or leaving? Why were they always rejected by the father? Is that not unfair? This is what it's all about. We are now ready to accuse the father of gross unfairness. How could he choose some, and not the others?

But this is the key to the story:

There is no real life equivalent for this situation! It would mean that we could look into the mind of God: which we cannot!

So this leaves only 2 possibilities, both of which we have seen that contents of the envelope is irrelevant.

In a real sense of the word, we discover Gods election for us in how we make our decision. This fact is illustrated by the story.

And at the same time, it does not change that fact that every born again Christian has been specifically elected by God to this position. And, as hard as it a sounds, it means that others were not chosen.

Believe it or not, not just anyone can come to God! So, the question is. What about you? Are you one of the chosen ones?

If you have any doubt, do not despair, just knock at the door. The Bible tells us, it will always be opened!