Doug Milander, my Canadian friend of 50 years, is a man of few words. He surprised his wife and his friends, including me, when he spoke in his church about his faith this week. Doug, who lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, shared a story that he had heard long ago, and I was nudged by God to share it with you:
The world was troubled, and the leaders decided to get together and talk this over. All the planets in the universe were invited to send delegates to this conference. All the planets showed up. Each was to explain their greatest accomplishment.
Mars delegates were quick to tell they had eliminated homelessness. Everybody had a place to live. Problem solved.
Jupiter chimed in. Not only had they solved homelessness, there was no more poverty.
Another planet added that they had eliminated disease. No more people getting sick and dying.
Still another planet bragged, “We’ve eliminated crime, violence and hatred.”
Imagine what the Earthlings were thinking. They had a bit of a reputation for being unable to really manage things very well. How would they respond? They still had many problems to be solved.
They looked to their leader and he simply said, “It’s OK, I’ve got this. Just relax.”
When it was the Earthlings’ turn, the leader proudly stepped to the microphone, and this what he said: “Christ came to Earth. God sent His Son to Earth.”
You could hear a pin drop in that conference hall. People started to mutter. “Imagine the Son of God went to Earth of all places, with their reputation?”
They wanted more. “What did He do?” they asked. “Did He lead a great army to drive out all the evil and restore justice to Earth?”
“No, He didn’t raise any armies,” said the Earth leader. “He did go out and preach to people and they listened, and the Word was spread.”
“Did you put Him up on the throne?” asked the delegates. “Did He rule the Earth with wisdom and justice and truth?”
“That’s not really how it turned out,” said the Earth’s delegate. “We killed Him. We put Him on a cross and killed Him.”
You can imagine how the people in the audience reacted.
“How could this be? How could you be so cruel and kill the Son of God?” The conference broke into mayhem — people yelling insults and delegates saying they should throw the earthlings out.
The leader of the Earthling delegation tried to calm the crowd. “Wait. there’s more to the story.”
What would you say if you were the delegate? My friend Doug said this:
“I won’t pretend to have all the answers, but the question really is why did Christ have to die to make God’s will known to the world?
“I always feel a great deal of guilt around Easter because the Son of God had to give His life for us and for the world. We are taught from beginning in Sunday school, and I can certainly remember, that God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son.
“We have to take that to heart and try to live our lives following His example to be caring, kind and loving. We need to try to promote peace, harmony and justice around the world and treat people with dignity and respect their rights and live good lives.
“That is my only answer. God needed to get our attention. What better way to do it than the way He did?
“So, I would just conclude by saying I don’t often talk about my faith. I was in Sunday school as a 5-year-old and learned a lot. I guess it stayed with me all my life. Now I’m almost 74 years old. I do trust in the Lord and I think we all have to remember, no matter how tough life gets, God is always there for us when we need Him.”