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A Televangelist Meets God

In heaven, God walks with a recently arrived man. In life, he had been a wildly popular and successful evangelical preacher. The preacher finally asks his burning question: 

“Lord, I prayed that you would keep us safe from the virus, but it killed me. I was so scared and in so much pain. It was horrific. Lord, why didn’t you answer my prayers? Why didn’t you save me? I trusted you.” 

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God answers, “My child, I sent you doctors and nurses, and all manner of scientists, but you dismissed them.” 

“I was right to dismiss them, Lord. Not one of them was strong enough to save me. If you sent them, why then were they powerless in the end? So I trusted you, not them, because in the end they could not save me. So why did you abandon me?” 

“Child, I sent you also the CDC and the WHO, and through them I spoke truly what would be needed to save lives. Through them, I instructed you to be still and to love your neighbor, but instead you led my lambs away from my word in them.” 

“Lord, they did not use your name, so I could not recognize them as being your messengers.” 

“So I sent also many clergy and other faithful disciples who translated their work in my name, so that you might recognize my hand in it, and so that you could love me and your neighbors, but you also did not listen to them. Still, you are here with me now, my child, through all eternity.” 

“Yes, Lord, because I was a good and faithful servant. I preached your word every day.” 

“No, you preached your own word every day. My voice was seldom heard in your halls or on your lips.” 

“But, Lord, you sent me riches. You rewarded me with wealth and fame. That is how I knew that I had your favor!” 

“What you received was the world’s rewards for the world’s work. It was not a heavenly reward at all. Many who do evil have received worldly favor. Indeed, your being here is no reward, for it is only by my saving grace, by my desire that not one little lamb be lost, for which reason my one true Lamb was given for your sake.” 

“I understand, Lord. Then surely I am here beside you because I saved thousands of souls with my preaching.”
“Still you have not heard me, child. You did not save a single soul, nor could you have. Indeed, you were a stumbling block for many of my little ones. But they, too, are safe in my bosom, by grace alone.” 

“But, Lord, I have done so much good in your name!” the preacher protested. “What of my reward in heaven, which you promised me, for all the healing and preaching I have done?” 

“Child, you have lead many astray with your preaching, and you have hurt many with your healing. Even now, many of your flock suffer. You acted for your own glory, not mine, and did not listen to my spirit in you, nor use the gifts given you for my works. I despised your festivals and offerings, for they served only to feed your own glory, not mine. But still my grace covers you. I will bring you to meet the souls that you lost, and the faithful that you failed to lead while you abused my name. And you will fall before them and confess your wrongdoing before me. And they will forgive you, of course, as will I, though you deserve niether, for that is the nature of grace. Grace is not earned, but I give it freely from my hand, to cover every iniquity, for not even you are so wicked that my hand cannot save you.” 

Photo by the author

Notes: I don’t mean this to represent anyone in particular. Nor do I claim that I have any special insight into the nature of heaven. It’s just a conversation I imagined as a variant on the old joke about the man in the flood who prays to God for help but refuses every chance to be saved and asks God about it in heaven afterward.

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