The MeetingA Chapter by Ethan Paz
James and Luke talk to a possible new recruit, Andrew. The question is: whether he is good enough or not.
“It’s simply amazing . . . that every person we’re looking at has a story to tell,” James said while he was looking at the crowd in front of him.
Andrew and Luke switched their stares from the majestic sunset to the people playing and talking to each other. They were sitting on the wooden bench placed on top of a hill in Centennial Park gazing at the scenery while enjoying their weekly Tuesday theological discussion with James.
Luke chuckled as he saw the touchdown unraveled from the previous play. He was more focused on the people in the park than the previous discussion and the one James was about to ensue. He just talks on and on and on.
“This is such a drag,” Luke thought.
There were a couple things to be doing instead of sitting down and talking about who knows what under the sun. Andrew didn’t particularly enjoy discussing theology and debate over it " especially with James and Luke, but he had to put in his two cents: it was mutual. However, Andrew did enjoy being outside right at this moment, enjoying the sunset.
“’The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.’ You are great God.”
“The question now is whether their stories are a good or bad one to tell,” Andrew replied.
In order to maintain the circular discussion and be a part of it, Luke had to speak. He knew he had to speak, and he wanted his word to be very choice and wise, profound. Nothing came to mind. His turn.
“Or better yet what makes a story good or bad?”
Not bad, Luke. You outdid yourself again.
The one good thing about speaking to yourself that Luke liked was that it was premeditative thought. There were many benefits for meditation. Not only do you sound smarter when you think to yourself, but also, it makes you sound quite profound when you speak.
Laughter, singing, talking, giggling " everyone in the park enjoyed themselves. A mother and a dozen kids sang happy birthday to a little girl. A girl and supposedly her guy were walking together hand to hand off to a neighborhood, and the football scrimmage was “just getting started.”
“So, Andrew, what do you think?”
“Huh, think about what?”
“Were you paying attention at all? What makes a story good or bad?”
“Um no but relax, man. Why are we asking all these questions anyways when we already know the answer?”
Luke glanced at James with a look that seemed incurious, but James glanced back and made a slight nod that Andrew didn’t notice. Luke always had fifty-fifty chance in guessing if he interpreted James correctly. He wasn’t a good lip reader, mind reader, or any other kind of reader he could think of.
“We ask questions so we can know something about God. We want to know God,” Luke retorted.
If there was one thing Luke learned from James all these years was that knowledge is prime, always. No exceptions. Proverbs supported this. Ecclesiastes support it. Actually, the whole Bible supported it.
“So?” James asked.
Andrew stood up right and turned his body to the right to face James and Luke. Either he was a training instructor about to yell in the faces of his recruits or a teacher about to rebuke his students. His face clearly shown that it wasn’t a time to be happy.
“Alright, I’ve had enough of this. It’s like you two are quizzing me, and you guys are acting as if it’s a matter of life and death.”
James stood up nonchalantly and a slight breeze blew from Andrew to James with Luke in between. He grasped his Mountain Dew, drank the last bit heartily, and tossed the bottle into the nearby garbage can.
“Theology is a matter of life and death, Mr. Brown.”
“You know what I mean. Can’t you two just lay off?”
“Okay, okay, we’ll back off. We’re just asking a question.”
The sky began to shed its purple streaks of light above with a display of orange. The wind blew softly causing the grass to sway gently and the leaves to brush together. Luke remained seated in between James and Andrew, fiddling with his two thumbs.
“A good life is defined by doing the will of God through love; a bad life is quite the opposite: hate to God; hate to everyone,” stated Andrew in a monotone voice.
“Very good. Impressed I must say. Right, Luke?”
“Yeah, it sounds fancy if you’re asking me.”
Fancy words set up correctly make the best quote; however, Luke didn’t like Andrew. There is something about him that is strange, but James insisted that they find a new recruit and, well, Andrew was reading a NIV Bible last week. So they scheduled to meet today. So far he was making the team.
“And all of heaven is awaiting whether if we will live the good life . . . or the bad,” stated James.
“But for the mean time, the good,” Luke added in.
“Or that’s what you think,” Andrew replied.
James smile turned into a cynical face. He crossed his arms, staring at James. One reason he liked holding the position as boss for his job was a good way to make people nervous. To stare at someone for a long time without saying a word " one can get a nervous reaction out of someone if you were good enough. This was his expertise.
“What are you talking about,” James inquired.
“What I mean is what if you think you are in the light, but you actually are in the dark? What if when you think you are doing good, you actually are doing evil. What if you deceived yourself, and you don’t know it? And even if you think you might be deceived and try to change for the better, you continue to be trapped by yourself. It makes you wonder.”
Luke stopped playing with his thumbs and sat upright. Normally, he wouldn’t listen to such a discussion in full detail, but from the reaction of James’ face, the heat was going up " and it was only getting hotter.
“What are you implying?” Luke questioned.
“What I’m implying is maybe what we call good and what God calls good are two different ideals. Have you ever thought we unconsciously limit God to our standards and abilities?”
From the looks of James and Luke’s face, he could tell that he was treading in deep waters. But this was truth wasn’t it?
“That’s a joke. What we do is always considered righteous as long as we don’t blatantly sin against God. All what we do now is please God with the righteousness that He gave us,” James answered
“What about the hidden sins that you didn’t know that you sinned? Explain that.”
“It doesn’t matter, Andrew. Haven’t you heard? I am a new man; the old has passed away,” James raised his arms as he made this little address.
Luke got up onto his feet and stood to the right with James. If there was one thing or two that Luke learned while hanging out with James it was this: if you side against James, you will burn yourself. He wasn’t resolved to be burned again. Luke stood next to James and placed his arm around his shoulder. The Lean on Me song popped into his mind.
“You better listen to him, Andrew. He’s always right. He’s going into seminary: A’s too.”
“I don’t care how smart how he is, every man sins. ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’ That was Romans chapter three.”
“Those verses were for the old man. This is why we questioned you, Andrew: to see if you were of us or not. ‘For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance.’ So . . . are you in?” James snarled as he walked forward to Andrew.
“I’m for the truth,” Andrew spoke hastily.
“Weren’t you just listening? This is the truth!”
The picture of people enjoying themselves all became a hazy blur as the discussion furthered itself. Although Luke hated hearing in depth discussion, he did enjoy hearing James burn anyone during a discussion. Andrew was being burned right now. A slight grin formed on his face.
“Pizza would be good right about now,” Luke thought.
“No, it’s your man made lies.”
“You took a passage out of its context. Look up this book,” James withdrew a Bible from his coat jacket and revealed it to him, “tons of passages support how we only have the new nature.”
“The Bible never did say that being a guide to the blind would be easy. Jesus just says, ‘Follow me.’ So I’m going to ask you one more time . . . are you in?”
“Then how is it that Paul continually struggled with sin? How do you explain that? Huh?”
“So . . . everybody messes up now and then,” James walked away from Andrew and faced the little birthday party going on, “that doesn’t mean we are not perfect.”
“How long will you believe your lies, James?
One thing Andrew didn’t enjoy was people not answering his questions. A kindergartener could answer a question, whether he was wrong or not, why not James? For all one could know the question did not even make it to the man’s brainwaves.
“I know you won’t listen to me, so let me end with this,” Andrew walked to James and James turned around to face him, “We all sin, period! You’ve seen the light; now it’s your job to stay in it, that means you too, Luke.”
“Whatever,” said Luke.
Andrew turned around and walked down the hill just as the sun was resting off into the night. People began to go home for the night. Sweat beaded off of his brow onto the grass. Much work has to be done.
“And Andrew . . . you’re out.”
Andrew didn’t flinch but kept on walking.
“Let the games begin, Andrew, let the games begin . . . .”
© 2011 Ethan Paz
Added on August 17, 2011
Last Updated on August 17, 2011
Iron River, MI
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