Monday, January 12, 2009

Table for two

Notice how nicely these post just seem to follow one another. :) Purely coincidence I assure you.

Many years ago my wife and I took a vacation to Dominica Republic. When most people think of vacation spots, Dominica usually doesn’t come to mind but through a series of complicated events, we ended up there. (I will save that for another story) I don’t know why, but some of the most beautiful places on earth are tucked in among some of the most poverty stricken places on earth. Dominica is no exception.

The place where we stayed was called Playa Dorada which means “golden beach”. Inside the security fence were beautiful hotels, lush gardens, tropical swimming pools, golf courses and lovely beaches. Just outside the fence was poverty like you have never seen in America. And to make matters worse, the area where we stayed was said to be the “Better side of the island.” I can only imagine what the other side is like. Patrice, one of my blogger friends knows because she has been there. She went there, not on a vacation but on a missionary trip. In fact she is going again this year so contact her if you want to know more. But on with my story:

So inside this complex were several really nice resorts. Each had its own restaurant and in addition there were restaurants not associated with any particular resort. Most of them were casual dining as were most of the restaurants inside the various hotels. There was one restaurant inside the complex that was said to have a really great menu and in the brochure that we read it said: “proper dinner attire required”. The brochure said that this restaurant had the best Lobster on the island so we decided to check it out. My wife put on a nice dress and I wore dress slacks and a nice dress shirt.

It was only a short distance from where we were staying so we decided to walk. When we got to the restaurant, the lobby was packed. There must have been 30 people waiting to be seated. They had on everything imaginable from bathing suits, to t-shirts. Some had on flip flops and cut off jeans and most looked like they came straight from the beach. We don’t like waiting in long lines so we decided to go someplace else. Just then, the maître d spotted us and pushed everyone to the side and signaled for us to come forward. When we got to the front of the line, he said; “We have a wonderful table, just for you”. He proceeded to give us a great table and yes the meal was wonderful and the service was superb. We had the biggest lobster I have ever seen on a platter and it was all we could do to finish it.

On the way out, there were still lots of people waiting to get in and some were arguing about the dress code. Did I feel bad about being let in ahead of them? Yes, just a little but the requirements to get in were posted where everyone could see them and the restaurant was merely sticking to it. All you had to do to get in was to dress appropriately. There were other restaurants featuring things like burgers and flying fish sandwiches that didn’t have a dress code so there were plenty of places to eat. No one was forced to go inside but if you wanted to, you had to dress properly. That’s the rule, there are no exceptions.

It bothers me when people try to bend the rules for personal gain. And in the process they sometimes ruin it for other people. That maître d’s job was made so difficult by all those people who were trying to get in even though they knew what the rules were. I mean think about it. No one made them enter that restaurant. They wanted to come in. So why not do what is required, dress appropriately and make it easy on everyone? And you know it is usually only a few that buck the system even though those are the ones that you hear about. There were probably more than a thousand people staying in that complex and most of them were content to eat somewhere else but those few were bent on eating at that one restaurant. Oh well such is life.

In a totally unrelated story: (wink wink)

This week our pastor (Pastor Greg) decided to do something a little different. Because of the many things happening in the world and the fact that so many people are troubled by things that they don’t understand, he decided to answer questions and incorporate them into his weekly sermon. He answered some difficult questions about discrepancies between the Bible and scientific discoveries. He also answered questions about current happenings that just don’t make sense. I can expound on them if anyone is interested but let me just say that it was very enlightening. I am hearing these arguments more regularly these days. Let me say that Pastor Greg is a brave man because he was taking these questions by snail mail, email and yes, even by text messages during his sermon.

Near the end of the sermon, he looked at his monitor and got this comment/question: “With all the people and religions in the world, how can you say that your beliefs are right especially when your religion condemns seemingly good people to hell when they die?” Wow, that’s a biggie. I have also heard this said: “How can you call yourself a Christian and think that innocent little children who believe differently than you will not be allowed into heaven.” Pastor Greg is going to answer this question next week. So what would I say if I were in his shoes?

First off let me say that I seldom hear these arguments from people of other religions who truly believe in their own religion. I think that is because if they truly believed in another religion then they wouldn’t worry what Christians say. The majority of the people I hear arguing that “Christianity is wrong” are people who are lost in their own search for a belief and have decided that it is better to “not believe” than to believe in something that they don’t totally understand or that crimps their lifestyle. So the three biggest arguments that I keep hearing against Christianity are:

It condemns people who don’t believe.

I don’t totally understand it.

It restricts my lifestyle. (lots of people don’t like to admit this one)

Ok first off, if you don’t believe in God then for you there is no heaven or hell so we are not condemning anyone. In fact even if you do believe in those things, WE aren’t condemning anyone. The Bible offers heaven to anyone. It isn’t exclusive. You just have to believe and know how to get in.

Second. I consider myself a Christian or at least I am trying and I don’t totally understand everything in the Bible. I also don’t totally understand everything that is “Scientific” and since no one can answer all the questions and not every scientist agrees on any theory this sounds like a standoff. I bet most of you reading this don’t have a clue what Binding energy is or how it relates to nuclear power but you know nuclear power is real.

Item three seems to be a sticky point for many people. I believe that there is a Heaven. I also believe that there are those out there that want to believe that there is a Heaven but are looking for a loophole or an alternative way to get in. They want to go there but they don’t want to follow the “Dress Code” and because of this they look for ways to disprove that there is a Heaven. It is easier justified in their minds that it doesn’t exist than it is to follow the rules. All I can say is read the Bible and find out what the “dress code” is decide for yourself. The requirements are right there in black and white just like they were in that restaurant brochure. And don’t wait until you are on your death bed. Some people don’t make it that far. It would be bad to be standing there in your bathing suit and find out that you needed a coat and tie to get in. (Just an expression. That isn't a requirement)

Have a great day,


Edie said...

Excellent analogy Greg! Really great read. How true it is that so many people just don't want to follow the rules, EVER. There is one way into heaven. There used to be NO WAY. God made a way of escape and said "Over here! You can get out here!!"

I look forward to hearing how your pastor answered some of those questions.

ChrisJ said...

Great post Greg! Trouble is none of us like to be told what to do, because if we do as we are told it means someone else is in charge. I'm so thankful God is in charge!

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

My pastor is fond of saying, "I'm not upset that there aren't 1,000 ways to get to heaven. I'm so grateful that God made A way through Christ." Also, I did not steal your thunder yet. That is a whole nother post.

Chatty Kelly said...

Greg - this was excellent! I love your totally unrelated (wink) stories!

My husband is fond of saying "some people would complain if you gave them a gold brick, because they had to carry it." God gives us eternal life - but people don't want to carry it! They'd rather complain about what you can't do.

Great writing, friend!

Marla said...

Great post! Really the requirements to get into heaven are not that tough! But most folks don't like rules. Some people who call themselves Christians, don't even know the rules!

Scarlet said...

Wow, I'm going to start calling you Pastor Greg from now on. Great post, my friend! :)

I think people avoid the truth of the Bible for many reasons...because they don't want to be accountable for their actions or for fear of losing control. What's funny is that they/we are not really in control anyway, God is. The truth is, there are consequence to what we do, so we can't escape accountability either.

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

Have you read the first 14 verses of Matthew 22? It's all about a wedding feast, and the people who were invited to come were improperly dressed, so the King giving the feast provided a garment for them.

It's a perfect picture of Christ's righteousness being our robe instead of some filthy version of our own.

In the end, there is one who tried to get in clothed in his own righteousness, and he was thrown out of the feast. That's a really sad and inopportune time to figure that out.

Great post, my friend.

Debbie said...

Great post. I also think you have a very brave pastor!

Jeannie said...

Good post. As you say, no one is condemned, they choose themselves. I do think though that God knows what someone would choose if they knew the choice so those who have never heard the good news are not without hope. I have no clue how many if any such people exist.

The Dom Rep is a very very popular vacation spot for Canadians. I would say the majority of people coming in for a tan before heading south are going there this year - mostly Punta Cana. It might be because we have flights there from our own airport so there isn't the drive to Toronto or some other city.

Edwina at The Picket Fence said...

Great post Greg or should I say 'Rev'... There are so many sides and opinions about life and heaven and hell. But in the end, the only real opinion that will matter, is when God says, 'Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter in' That is what I am holding on to and waiting for.

Katherine Aucoin said...

Very smooth tying the restaurant story and Christian beliefs together. I'm a rule person so I'm with you. Wonderful post!

Sharon said...

Great, great read, greg. Some of us always feel as though we have to be in charge. Some have a problem following any rules, especially one, sad,sad,sad, huh.

You should be preaching now!!
Have a blessed day

Susan Skitt said...

As always Greg, great read. You make your readers think, question, wonder - that's good.

I'll say it straight. The Bible says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved."

Saved from what? The punishment of sin (we have all sinned) and Hell.

Saved to? An abundant life with Christ Jesus (doesn't mean rich, but abundant and fulfilling) and of course the best part of all, a home in Heaven that Jesus is preparing for us!

John 14:6, "Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life, nobody comes to the Father, except through me." - that's God's rule!

Monogram Queen said...

Good post Greg, feel privelaged that I visited you heh heh....

God's girl said...

Ditto with everyone else!!! Very wonderful and insightful post. Thanks for your thoughts regarding my son. I really appreciate it!


skoots1mom said...

so, you really own a coat and tie!!Amazing...jus' kiddin'
enjoyed the post...i'm surprised the restaurant let in post made me want lobster.

Angie said...

What they said. Great tie in and really good post. You've got this blog thing down.

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