Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Gospel according to Bob Thompson

Pretend there is someone named Bob Thompson. I suppose there may be a real person named Bob Thompson, but I'm not talking about him, but a pretend one. Okay, got the mental image? He's older, about 65ish with a big nose and large ears and a bit of a belly. He's got white hair and works with prisoners in Folsom Prison, teaching them how to read and write and also as an EMT. The day after he retires, he packs his bags and takes a trip up to Sacramento. He walks into the Capitol Building and asks to speak to the Governor.

Of course the secretary says no, but after a lengthy plea, her eyes water up and she checks the schedule. "I think I can get you in to see him, but maybe only for a minute." She says. Bob Thompson thanks her and walks through the office doors.

The Governor is waiting for him. He had been told briefly that a Mr. Bob Thompson was being shown in for a word, but he doesn't know what it's about. "Welcome to Sacramento, Mr Thompson." Greets the Governor warmly. He gets up from behind his desk and shakes hands. Bob returns the greeting, takes the seat as directed, and asked the governor a question. "Do I have a criminal record?" The Governor is confused by the question, but clicks away at his computer for a second.

"No, Mr. Thompson, you don't have a criminal record at all. Not even a traffic ticket."

"Well... I would like to receive the death penalty in exchange for every prisoner in the state of California to be set free."

"What! Are you crazy? Those are criminals!"

"I know they are. I have worked with them for years, and I know they have broken the law, and killed and raped and stolen, but I have become fond of them and wish that they be set free. I am willing to trade my life for theirs."

The Governor, obviously dumbfounded, tries to dissuade Bob Thompson from his outrageous request and talks of how unsafe the streets would be, but Bob Thompson, as politely as possible, pleads with his heart, and the Governor listens. Time goes by, but at the end of the day, the Governor writes up the pardon.

The execution of Bob Thompson becomes a nationally televised event. News channels debate the morality and legality of it from the time the news breaks up until the pronouncement of death. Bob Thompson turned down every attempt to interview, and endured crowds of people hissing and yelling at him as he is transported to the execution chair. He dies of lethal injection.

The pardon is upheld, and distributed to the prisons. It is written in a way to release all prisoners, but if the prisoner's wished to stay, the prison would still receive government funds to take care of them. The Wardens read this pardon and decide not to tell the prisoners. They remove tvs and newspapers from the prison cells and stop the mail from going in or coming out. The people living in nearby towns have protests and rallies in attempt to keep the pardon from going through, saying that they will no longer be safe and the criminals are behind bars for reasons. They don't deserve to be freed.

However, a few prisoners find out about this pardon and demand to be set free. The prison guards have no legal grounds to keep them and tell them to get out, but to keep their mouths shut. But as these prisoners leave, they spread the news of the pardon and tell everyone that they only need to believe it and walk out to be freed. "The guards can't legally keep us in here," they say, "but lie to us to make us think that we're prisoners when we have been freed." Some believed them and left with them, and the guards told everyone else that they were not free, but those that left are going to be punished greater. Many believe the guards and stay in their cells. The ones that are freed find out about Bob Thompson and what he did and it softens their hearts. They decide that they no longer want to be criminals, but everyone still thinks they are and points out their flaws. This causes some of the freed men to stay at home and become prisoners of a different sort, but a few of the freed men decide to endure the criticism of the public an win them over with good works and gentle words. They go back to prison to tell the other inmates that it wasn't a lie, but a truth that they can truly be free if they just believe and walk out with them. Some do, most don't.

This is like what it's like for us in real life. We were once prisoners. A result of sin. We committed crimes against God by loving ourselves and our pleasure more than loving Him who created us. But Jesus pleaded with the Father for us, trading His perfect life for ours, and dying for us. (Only Jesus rose again.) Because of that, we became freed men in prison, being lied to by the devil and his demons so that we think we are still captive. But we hear the truth spoken by fellow prisoners, and we see them lead a different sort of life, defying the guards. Some of us follow, and find out that we are truly free. Once on the outside, we are bombarded by people who don't like us and don't think us worthy of freedom. They think they are better than us. Some of us hide away from them, but others return to where we were once held captive to declare the truth to those who did not believe at first, or did not hear.

Who are you?

1 comment:

The Molters said...

Now as people who have been set, free and set free indeed, let us tell the whole world until our last breath.