Context for this story: A two-tiered society composed of monarchy with a separate civil government elected by the people. In this case the monarchy is totally benevolent in every way, yet the people of the country entertain growing doubts about the wisdom of some of the activities of the members of the monarchy. Tension is developing as an undercurrent is growing to throw off the outdated system and streamline government more in line with the rest of the world.
Originally the system was designed so that the civil government was supposed to reflect in its posture to the surrounding countries the benevolence of the monarchy. The plan was that as more and more foreign countries would become enamored and attracted by the happiness and freedom enjoyed by the citizens of this country that they would petition to come under the authority of same monarchy and thus expand the realm until the entire world would be under the authority of the beneficent Queen.
But instead of fulfilling this original design, the civil government and the populace had elected to take a different course, embracing principles of defensiveness based on suspicion, fear and even aggression in repeated bids to expand their empire through brutal conquest. The people of the kingdom had rejected the methods of the monarchy and had instead sent armies all over the world to install corrupt puppet governments propped up with bribes and/or threats to serve the interests of the occupying forces. Thus the local peoples and lands were exploited for the benefits of the rich and powerful back home.
Obviously this extremely damaged the reputation of the monarchy as this abusive exploitation and violence was done in the name of the royal family. Because of this people around the world came to view family members of the monarchy with suspicion at best but more often with fear, bitterness and resentment. Because the soldiers who had so brutally suppressed these countries and exploited them had done so in the name of the monarchy, there was great resistance and constant uprisings against the authority of the Queen.
The problem however, was not that the royal family were so corrupt as one might suspect and were merely using their civil government to advance their kingdom through force, intimidation and violence. The problem was that the people who were supposedly subjects of the kingdom refused to rely on and practice the methods and morals of the monarchy. This was because they believed they would be ineffective in a world full of threats and dangers. The civil government exercising day to day control over the affairs of the common people felt that their own methods were more reliable for maintaining the security of the country and its citizens. So instead of the ways of the monarchy they chose to rely on their own methods depending on systems of rewarding compliance and executing severe punishments against any who dared to defy authority. This was the only viable option they could see.
This alternative system of ruling seemed far more efficient than the ideas of the monarchy as the ability to control subjects and keep enemies intimidated and at a distance was their highest priority. The more gentle methods promoted by the Queen mother simply seemed untenable and impractical in a world filled with intrigue and violence. Almost no one believed that her ways could provide security for the kingdom against the extreme violence seen increasing in other places around the world.
Recently a new threat had emerged that aroused even more fear and suspicion in the minds of many in the kingdom. They had watched as violence, rebellions and horrors were taking place in far-off countries involving barbaric people who clearly had little concern for human life and no respect for the vulnerable and weak. They greatly feared that this rise in terrorism was threatening to find its way into the cities and villages of the kingdom and they were deeply concerned about how to keep it away. But to their great consternation the Queen, instead of calming their fears actually added to them by expressing a desire to offer shelter to all refugees seeking a place of protection
The Queen actually made a public announcement that any who applied could find protection and provision in her kingdom if they were willing to submit themselves to her authority. Citizens were shocked and dismayed. These people were clearly not subjects of the government and furthermore had little understanding or appreciation for the culture and preferences of established society. This would only result in producing even greater tension because of of the introduction of strange ways and customs.
Additionally it was rumored widely that among the refugees were infiltrators, terrorist plants with intent to gain access to the kingdom so they could commit acts of revenge against the government and its people for the suppression the government had imposed on the countries it had occupied. This threat of retaliation terribly frightened the citizens and as a result their trust of the Queen and her methods dropped to a new low.
Given all of these back and forth of differences of opinion and intentions and methods between the monarchy and the civil government, support for maintaining the monarchy was at an all-time low. While some still clung to the sentimental memories of the glory days enjoyed by the kingdom in days gone by when the monarchy had more direct control, now the growing discrepancies between the opinions of the average person and the practices of the monarchy seemed to be unworkable. There were growing movements and rumors in countries still loyal to the crown of making a clean break from the monarchy altogether to following the example of others who had long ago declared complete independence from all allegiance.
Within the royal family discussions were also increasing. It was clear that there was much discontent among their supporters who had increasing reservations about the viability of even continuing a system that appeared clearly outdated. Questions arose as to whether or not it was feasible to continue to cling to living in ways that seemed so antiquated, grandiose and out of touch with current society. The requirements for proper behavior to maintain the air of majesty was so different from how the rest of the world lived that it had become puzzling to those who saw it as irrelevant at best. The refinement, elegance, dignity, nobility and honor that used to be accepted as the norm now seemed odd and almost impractical in the face of changing times and threats from the outside. Was it really wise to continue to cling to practices that were starting to appear so impractical in modern society? Was it worth it to continue to maintain elaborate estates and protect vast tracts of land for the benefit of the royal family when so many others lived in hovels of poverty and feared constant threats day and night?
What seemed increasingly clear to common citizens was that the idea of royalty had outlasted its usefulness and that it was time to completely dismantle it. Yes, it still provided an attraction for tourism as people came to stare in wonder at guards in striking uniforms performing precise maneuvers outside palace gates to the delight or amusement of onlookers. Gossip columns still loved to dwell on all the activities and social interactions of various members of the royal family living in relaxed luxury and who enjoyed immunity from many of the things everyone else had to endure at the hands of the civil government. But these things only reinforced the growing sentiment that it was unfair for the rest of the country to bear the brunt of such an expensive tradition when it was clear that the investments were not paying back any useful dividends as what might be achieved if the resources were directed elsewhere.
While the Queen had proposed allowing limitless numbers of refugees to find safety from the violence and threats of their home countries within the boundaries of her kingdom, this idea was pretty much the last straw for the waning support of the monarchy at home. It appeared that such a proposal could be enough to undermine all remaining support keeping the system in place. Yet instead of succumbing to the growing pressure of negative public opinion, the Queen announced a radical plan so bold and shocking that even members of the royal family were caught by surprise.
Now let me reiterate, everyone knew that the Queen was a very nice lady, very caring, compassionate, considerate and unselfish. They also knew that she was wise and generally trustworthy. And that was all well and good so long as it did not involve the rest of the country too much or inconvenience others too often. That was part of why the influence and support of the monarchy had survived this long already. But this new proposal put forth by the Queen was alarming to nearly everyone, for it appeared she was either completely naive or scandalously losing her senses.
The program as announced by the Queen was more than simply absorbing refugees without any conditions or contingencies. No, this program was predicated on the condition that all refugees choosing to embrace her offer would need to be willing to embrace the lifestyle, social norms and methods of conduct expected of all royalty. In addition they must be willing to unconditionally submit their lives to the full authority of the Queen over them as loyal subjects. But the most shocking dimension of her offer was nearly incomprehensible to most onlookers, for the Queen declared that any who accepted her offer would receive full legal adoption to become part of her royal family. In doing so they would forever be considered as full-blooded family receiving all benefits and responsibilities expected of the royal family line. As such, they would also enjoy the same immunity that all royal family members had and could live on the estates reserved exclusively for members of royalty.
Imagine the shock waves of surprise, dismay and even alarm that rocked the kingdom when this announcement was made by the Queen mother. Full adoption as royalty? Scandalous! Had dementia consumed her mind? What was she thinking anyway? How could this ever turn out good for anyone? Didn't she realize or even have a clue as to the mental and emotional condition of these refugees? Wasn't she aware of what was going on in the places where they came from? And didn't she realize that many of these people were suspected terrorists likely plotting to overthrow her government and might easily destroy her entire kingdom, civil and monarchy alike?
Yet the Queen refused to back away from her plan in the slightest despite the outcries of dismay and consternation. Instead she immediately set out work to convince government leaders and regional delegates within the civil government that she not only believed in the success of what she was proposing but that they could trust her to effectively deal with any and every complication that might arise from implementation of such a radical solution. She also began taking a more active role in organizing various members of her family to begin making immediate preparations for the arrival of the poor, the abused and uncouth people in need of food, shelter and reeducation in the ways of royalty.
However, do not entertain any notion that the Queen had any tolerance for compromise of the high standards of what it meant to live as royalty. The long-existing standards of respect, etiquette and gentleness, charm and refinement would be fully expected of everyone without the slightest exception for any who would choose to accept her generous offer. And while there was no proficiency tests to pass on the part of any who might apply to be included in her bold plan, everyone coming to apply to participate in this opportunity would be required to submit fully to all the requirements and training involved in the adoption process. They would have to renounce all allegiance to their former governments, relinquish all their clothing, weapons and possessions and accept in their place the provisions generously provided for them at induction centers. They would then need to participate in an ongoing process of assimilation through reeducation during which they would learn the philosophy, thinking and come to grasp the underlying principles which governs the life of every member of the royal family. When they were acclimated sufficiently they could then be welcomed fully into palace life. In the meantime they would receive free housing, work assignments and be guaranteed all their needs to be provided in grand estates where they would be employed in useful labor to assist in facilitating others to escape the horrors of war or famine from other parts of the world.
Part of what made this such a scandalous offer in the minds of the common people was the fact that this arrangement bypassed the authority of the civil government entirely by offering direct adoption to people who were not even of the right nationality. Total foreigners would now be considered royalty while local people with long and brilliant legacies of exploits for the benefit of the kingdom were overlooked in this arrangement. The Queen was bringing in terrorists, former enemies of the state, rebels who had openly resisted the authority of the government and even some who had killed soldiers who were children of proud citizens. Such individuals would now not just be allowed ready access to enter the country but would be directly inducted into the very highest class of society. This meant such people would suddenly become royal family members with more authority and status than even the highest politicians. Clearly this was the worst idea ever proposed in the history of the world.
So, what do you think? Is this a crazy idea? Has the Queen lost her mind for sure?
What might you think of this arrangement if you were the one fleeing extreme violence from your own country? What if it was your house that had been bombed, where your family had lost members to rape, torture and executions? If you spent months living in extreme danger, cold, hunger and constant fear of danger and suddenly learned of the strangest offer imaginable – that the Queen of the most powerful nation on earth was offering full adoption into her family for any willing to submit to her authority and become assimilated into the culture of her people, would this interest you at all?
How might you feel about the hostility of the Queen's political enemies and the threats of outraged citizens scandalized by such a proposal. You are warned that they are not at all friendly or inclined to welcome outsiders. They have a long reputation as a very proud people who have looked down with disdain on outsiders. Now they are furious that their own Queen is apparently betraying her own people by opening a way for foreigners to flood the country and worse yet, to house them in grand estates. Are you ready to face angry protests flaring up around the country as induction centers come under attack?
If you are a refugee longing for safety and peace, would such a proposal be enough to invite your participation? Remember, accepting this offer means you will never return to living life as you have enjoyed it in the past. In fact, it involves a radical assimilation and transformation into a culture, lifestyle and mindset radically different from what you have ever known. It means being willing to humble yourself completely, surrendering everything you have worked hard all your life to achieve and to trust a woman far away you have never seen (1 Pet 1:8) to keep her word and support you merely with promises. It can also mean letting go of things that have made life meaningful and that give you identity and a sense of value in exchange for trust in promises of something better but not yet seen.
Accepting this kind of offer means renouncing loyalty, not only for your country of origin that is deteriorating into total chaos, but also involves reprioritizing all your relationships. It will mean forming new relationships with people whom you have never met but will become more important to you than even the closest family ties you have (Mt 10:37). Are you ready to make such a radical move, or is it too risky? You will be considered a traitor worthy of execution by those you are leaving behind. Are you ready to make that bold of a move? Or will you decide to take your chances looking for a more palatable alternative elsewhere? Do you really have reliable resources to defend yourself from powerful forces out to destroy your country and your family? How much success will that provide?
How desperate do things have to get in your life before this kind of offer looks good enough to embrace? How much suffering, humiliation, loss or destruction does it take to convince you that it is worth accepting? And even more intimidating, how can you even trust such a proposal to be true when at least part of the violence and abuse you and your family have already suffered has come from citizens exploiting you in the name of the kingdom? Can you trust a Queen who's reputation has been seriously brought into question by so many of her own people? What are you going to do?
What if you don't see yourself a refugee in desperate need of safety but rather a long-time citizen of the Queen's home country? Is this program so scandalous that you are ready to join the protests and attack induction centers designed to create in influx of suspicious foreigners that might take over your land? How long are you going to allow rumors and long-held traditions dictate your opinions about this idea? Are you willing to push against the rising tide of fury sweeping your country clamoring to unseat the monarchy to reexamine the truth about the real character of the Queen and discover her real motives?
The media is consumed with the excitement of suspicion, fear and emotional fervor. Politicians have spun their campaigns to paint a dreadful future full of terror and doom if this program is allowed to move forward. By overwhelming margins the public is opposed to embracing strangers asserting it is a dangerous potential that will only threaten public safety. Common sense seems to indicate clearly that the only sane course of action is to resist the Queen's madness whatever that takes. Are you going to go along with the crowd and call for her impeachment to 'save the country,' or will you push back against the strong current of popular emotion to think outside the social box of patriotism and risk endangering your own reputation and welfare as a result?
If you have not figured it out by now, I am clearly not talking about any earthly kingdom like the British empire or anywhere else. Human beings are inherently far too selfish to ever attempt such a brazen idea, especially in the hostile environment of the political scene today. Yet the similarities seen in this little story may begin to allow us to view things in a such way that might be more readily recognizable than using other metaphors. And in case you are already offended by referencing God using the analogy of a Queen, well maybe you are already caught in the strong current of emotions by outraged countrymen looking to depose the monarchy. In case you never noticed, God is not gendered in any way despite the shrill insistence of males for many centuries.
There is much more here than simply prejudices involving gender or pride. I am coming to see more and more that God's proposal is not just about a radical rescue plan that seems scandalous to religious people here, but His plan to directly adopt rebel humans has raised serious concern in the minds of unfallen beings throughout the universe. These humans He intends to save have all been long infected with the terminal and highly contagious virus of selfishness and pride, yet He proposes to make them part of the highest order of beings in the universe, the same status as the Son of the God/Man Himself.
Why might this be viewed with deep concern by beings from other worlds and unfallen angels? For good reason, because given the nature of God's government where everyone enjoys total freedom and all thrive in an atmosphere of complete vulnerability, to introduce into that delicate ecosystem, beings who have been infected their entire lives with the spirit of exploitation raises highly sensitive concerns. To begin to appreciate their concern would be similar to us proposing introducing a serial rapist into a campground of happy, defenseless nudists. On its face it at first appears to be a reckless proposal.
I realize my scenario above did not convey completely the various parameters of this dilemma, but the reality is that God will not execute His plan to bring in a flood of refugees from planet earth into the pristine beauty and delicate atmosphere marked by extreme vulnerability that defines heaven before gaining the willing support of every being having any reservations about the viability of such a plan.
If we lay aside the legal approach that religion relies on and begin to see salvation as addressing the practical issue of how to assimilate former sinners into the selfless, extremely vulnerable society of angels and other beings of heaven, we can begin to appreciate the enormous task God has had to prepare heaven to embrace us without reservations. God never demands or forces His plans on anyone including those who already enjoy heaven today who are free of all fear of exploitation. That means He has to demonstrate to them enough evidence from our lives to fully convince them that His love and power really can so transform our characters and win our complete submission to His ways of love that we can be made fully safe to have around and can be fully integrated into that society of joy without ever again creating a danger for anyone throughout eternity. He has been working diligently for a very long time to convince the representatives in the assembly of the sons of God in heaven that He can in fact accomplish His plan successfully without endangering the perfect bliss enjoyed by the loyal universe.
I have come to believe that rather than viewing Jesus as our intercessor attempting to convince God to bring us home (or to forgive us or anything else of that nature), both Jesus and the Father are interceding on our behalf seeking to provide enough compelling observable evidence in our lives to convince the court of heaven fully so He can move into the next phase of His extreme rescue plan and give all of them confidence that it will not backfire sometime in the future. The insurance that sin will never rise again cannot be secured through fear that God would surely punish such an uprising; it can only be secured as every heart is finally fully convinced that God's ways are the only ways worth following (1 Joh 4:18).
One of the greatest difficulties in grasping the true nature of the plan of salvation is that the lies we have inherited cause us to perceive it in completely mistaken ways and in the wrong context. Far too long we have assumed that Jesus had to convince God to change His mind about allowing us into heaven's atmosphere. But it has never been God who has been our problem or who needs changing – never! The problem has always been the deadly infection of sin, the spirit of selfishness that arises after we refuse to trust that God is enough for us. When we do not trust God we cannot help but look for other options to provide and look out for us, and that in the malfunctions we call sins.
The watching universe knows this far better than we do and so they have plenty of reason to hold serious reservations about our ever becoming safe enough to be trust in the rare atmosphere of total vulnerability that marks God's kingdom. On earth we think of vulnerability as a liability, but in heaven it is enjoyed as the highest form of freedom, for without vulnerability in complete freedom love cannot thrive; and love is what makes heaven different from this world if you hadn't noticed.
The proposal God has made to adopt us as intimate family members and thus elevate us to the very highest order of beings possible among created intelligences is one that has rocked the entire universe ever since it was unveiled at the cross. To make the questions fly even more intensely, God announced that every human being is now already considered one of His personal children, 'in Christ' as the New Testament calls it. Religion wants to tame that to insist that this refers only to those who accept Jesus as their Savior. But Paul insists that just as all start out as descendants of fallen Adam and receive his sinful propensities, now ALL are viewed by God as descendants of Christ and are all part of a new order of beings predestined for greatness beyond our capacity to even imagine. (1 Corinthians 15:22)
Religion fights hard to refute or distort this claim, confusing us as to what God really has in mind. But what we need to do is to allow ourselves to perceive salvation from the perspective of those who may someday be our new neighbors and friends, that is if we will allow ourselves to be assimilated through the transformation of our minds into the kind of people they can trust and enjoy. It is this massive chasm between how we think life and reality should be, and how life really is as experienced by the society of heaven. This is the chasm that God has to take us across with the process of sanctification.
Imagine how scandalous is God's proposal to the angels. He has already announced that human beings with a sordid track record of deceit, violence, selfishness, exploitation and dishonesty will be the rulers of the universe, seated on the throne of infinite power with the Son of God. We are apparently being entrusted to replace Lucifer as the expositors of the deep mysteries hidden in the heart of God to the amazed but highly intelligent beings God has created who currently have far greater capacity than we do presently. What a crazy idea, to take former terrorists, rebels and ignorant slaves and assign them the most elevated responsibilities possible in the government of heaven. What is God thinking anyway?
God is thinking that love is so potent that anyone who embraces in His passionate love for them will be so transformed by it that they will come to reflect His love to others for the rest of eternity. God is so full of faith in our response to His offer of amnesty and elevation that He has already announced to the universe that we will share intimacy with God like a wife shares in the passionate love-making of her husband. Add to this that humanity will take on the full authority of a Queen mother. And all of this is accomplished, not by obsessing over meticulous rule-keeping but through assimilation into the culture of selfless love, as children adopted into a new family learn the nuances and culture of that family.
We are already adopted and already assigned as part of God's family government. Every human being has been adopted and destined to greatness; however not every human being will embrace and exercise their free will to allow God to access and transform their hearts to prepare them for the society of heaven. Those who refuse to submit to the authority of love now and choose instead a different option will discover that every other path leads to death. By rejecting their adoption as sons, they prove themselves unworthy of the trust of heaven and will find themselves staring with dismay on the riches and beauties of paradise from the outside as they come to realize they have rejected life itself.
We are all refugees in desperate need of redemption and rescue. But even though we all live in the same violent world of danger, it does not mean we are aware of our need or are willing to submit to the process of induction to live with the royal family in the palace. The declaration by the Queen offers full participation in the royal family for everyone willing to enter the induction process. It is not enough to just believe we have been designated as family; we have to participate in the assimilation process or the heavenly family may not be willing to trust us to join them when moving day arrives.
What is needed on our part in order to participate with the salvage operation God has in place? It is not behavior modification or training in etiquette that prepares us for heaven; rather it is a transformation of heart that makes us worthy of the trust by heavenly beings. They know that if God has our heart and affections that our behavior will inevitably come around and we can be fully remedied. But without a heart connection and acceptance of the mind of Christ who's identity we have already been assigned, we cannot be trusted to live among those who live free, transparent and vulnerable.
And one last thing – don't let the protests of the commoners intimidate anyone to fear going to the induction center to join the family of heaven. They don't understand and they refuse to believe that God's family is based on love and not appearances, and they resent anyone who does. Just keep your focus on responding to God intimately and allowing Him full access to your heart, and He will work in you to both will and do of His pleasure (Philippians 2:13). The works of God flow naturally from the life surrendered to the Spirit of God, for God has promised that if we will simply believe in His method and the power of His love to save, anyone can become an honored member of royalty.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
(2 Corinthians 2:14-16)