For behold, I create a new heaven and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. Isaiah 65:17
“….when I (God) open the book of life, I am going to read out to the whole universe every last word written about your life. And do you know what that is going to be? It is just going to be your name. Nothing else. None of your bad deeds because I erased them with forgiveness already. And none of your good deeds because I didn’t count them I just enjoyed them.” -Robert Capon The Parables of Grace
It was around the year 2040 and God had a problem. All the journalists from the Watergate era were dying and going to heaven. Even though God would have wanted to keep some of these people out a rule was a rule. And the rule for heaven was “Everyone who wants in, gets in.” The rule had caused some trouble in the past. People can be very self-righteous but since this Watergate group showed up God could not get a moment of peace. These snoops smelled a scandal and they were on it. God was getting really tired of it.
It was getting to the point that God could not even go out and play a round of golf without an entourage of reporters chasing him around the course and asking him all kinds of pointed questions. They were sure that God was somehow not what he seemed. They would yell things at God like “Did you really mean to make the Avacado pit that big? Or was that a mistake? And if it was a mistake doesn’t that make you less than perfect? Don’t you owe the people an explanation?” He couldn’t leave his mansion on the hilltop without some reporter accosting him with questions like “What about hurricanes? You allow them right? You like them right? If you are good how can you allow them? Maybe you are not as good as you say!” It gave God a headache. And they were so self righteous and aggressive. God wished he could just go out once without having to answer to this bunch. God longed for the days when the only beings who followed him were the heavenly host singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” God loved that music but the heavenly host had abandoned him a long time ago unable to compete with the chorus of accusations.
All of it was just an annoyance until the day that they found Jeffrey Dahmer the mass murderer was in heaven too. Some guy named Woodward and his friend Bern-somebody found Dahmer in a little known part of heaven. Well, the horror. They assaulted God with the news. God was in the middle of his back swing on his favorite hole when the indignant group brought Dahmer pulling him by his nose hairs. “Look what we found!” God looked over and saw what they found. “Did you know he was in heaven with us?” God had been having a good day but not now. Not with this bunch.
“Well of course, I run the place remember?”
“You sure don’t run it too well if you are letting guys like that in! Next thing you know we will see Adolf Hitler walking the streets of gold. What kind of place are you running here?” God decided not to mention his many entreaties to Hitler trying to convince him to come up to heaven. The rule extended to him too. They would never understand that. The accusations went on. “Don’t you know what this Dahmer did? You must not be as all knowing as you seem!”
God was so weary, “Yes, I know all about him as I know all about all of you. I have forgiven all of you.” The response was another chorus, “Hey we weren’t perfect but we were not Jeffrey Dahmer! There is no logic that gets that guy here!”
“It is the rule, same for everyone. I simply forgive. It is called the Grace of God. You have been living on it for years. I don’t have to remember all the things you have done wrong because all of you are so good at blaming each other. And you are all very good at revenge. Can you imagine how long the Palestinian’s and the Israeli’s will remember every wrong done to them done by the other? It has been going on forever. Someone has to forgive someone at some point or it will never end. So that is where I come in. I forgive always. Retribution only causes more hatred, and more bitterness and more violence so I don’t do it. Jesus told you, judge not; love your enemies; do not return violence for violence; live by the sword die by the sword; forgive seventy times seven, I am sure you are all aware what happened to him. You don’t want my Grace for those you don’t like but I don’t care I give it anyway. And I love you anyway no matter what and so there is always a place for you here. That is the way I made it and as long as I am in charge that is the way it will be!”
The cries went up immediately. “That is scandalous! You have turned your back on justice? How can you allow these bad people in heaven? Where is your sense of fairness? You can’t run heaven like this! If you do the place will be filled with all the wrong people!” God was about to tell the story of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-15 but the do gooders were already running to the phones. They were dubbing it Heavengate. God knew that he would have little peace for a long time. Self-righteousness does not die easily or quickly. God thought it might be time to revise the rule just to get rid of this bunch, send them all to hell! But he believed in the rule forever so he would have to put up with this bunch forever. Maybe God thought, he should reconsider reincarnation and send all these busy-bodies back as presidents! God smiled for the first time that day.
Tim Ives is a therapist who has a special interest in teens and families. His office is in Bedford Hills. He is also a Presbyterian Minister at Scarborough Presbyterian Church. He is married and has two teenagers.