No one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name (Revelation 13:17).
Our time, effort, and funds reflect our heart condition. This is what worship truly is. What you spend your time, effort, and money on is what you worship. We choose to worship ourselves, we choose gods and idols to worship, or we choose to worship selfless love. The choice is made in the heart, but reflected through the stewardship of these things.
The following parable was written by Joshua Noel and Mark Zweigart, as part three of five in a parable series, called "The Mark".
In the town like any other,
as the confusion grew stronger and the buzzing grew louder, the merchants of all the stores began to turn away David’s services. The reason the merchants were refusing his services was simply because he was drawing attention. The weird mark on his head, which he inherited at birth, was causing him much indigence. This unwanted attention caused those who would normally employ him for small tasks to begin refusing his services.
The act of turning David’s services aside began to greatly distress the young quarter back. This distress came about because David knew without these jobs, and the funds they provided, that he no longer could bring meals to his friends.
The Refugee was given minimal rations at the orphanage, as they had not enough money to efficiently feed all of the children, and also maintain their facilities. As only a foster child, David’s girlfriend also was fed but a minimal amount to survive in her home. So, David had worked hard with these merchants to provide for his friends all the luxuries that he enjoyed in his father’s house.
There was, however, one man who sought David out and offered him a job. This was the Farmer who began raising questions at the church just one week prior. The job was to help build a new barn. The Farmer was old and could no longer do these types of chores himself; he also knew David to be good at working with wood.
The Farmer’s family did not like David working on their barn, for he did indeed draw much attention in the town. The Farmer, himself, was even unsure whether or not to believe that David might be some figure of the end times, as David’s mark was truly unique and the whole town was indeed in a fret about it. However, the Farmer told David, that he believed in the American way, that no one was guilty until proven so, and if a man was willing to work then the opportunity should be given him. And so, David worked hard for the local farmer, in order to help his friends.
David would be spat upon and called many blasphemous names, as he worked. The people simply were afraid and did not know what to make of his mark. David never told the Farmer of these occurrences, for David did not want to upset the Farmer or draw any more attention to himself. David was simply glad to have the opportunity to work.
After a week of working, David collected his earnings and got everything needed for the extravagant meal that he would present to his two friends. These friends had always assumed that the meals came from David’s father, the Mayor.
During these meals, the friends would all intricately study the ways of God with each other. This week they came across the story of a poor woman who gave her all in the offering outside the temple. Jesus said she gave more than anyone. The three kids took special note that Jesus was showing her one act of love to those who were taking the money being given, that is to say these were the ministers of the temple whom Jesus spoke to.
The Refugee then innocently inquired about what the town church did with its money. He could not comprehend how the Mayor could afford such extravagant meals for the three of them, but the church had not enough money to provide decent meals to rest of the children at the orphanage. David did not want his friends knowing that the meals came from him, so he remained mum on the subject. The Foster Child, taking up for her adopted Father, began to explain all of the church’s other expenses. She tried to make up numbers and such to explain away her father’s greed.
The Refugee carelessly and thoughtlessly insisted that the Pastor ate quite well and did not care who had to pay for his meals. This upset the Foster Child greatly.
She would then return home to make her own inquiry with her father. Having told him all about the meals and everything, the Pastor explained to his adopted daughter that the church requests each member to give their ten percent, then the church gives its ten percent to the orphanage. The church even would hold on to extra funds given over the allotted amount for the orphanage, in order to supplement funds to the home if donations were ever under budget for a month. The Pastor told his daughter that this system was what he came to after much prayer and he indeed believed it
was the system of God.
Having comforted his daughter, he brought much dismay upon himself. The Pastor truly did have faith in this system. He could not comprehend how his friend, the Mayor, had enough funds to pay for such extravagant meals, yet the church could barely seem to keep the town orphanage running. So, the Pastor would go to question his friend on these matters.
The Mayor knew nothing of these meals, of course. After some discussion, the Pastor and the Mayor determined that these gifts must have come from David, himself. After some debate the two even realised that David must have been giving all of his money earned to these meals.
The Pastor was then quite upset, for this meant that David was not giving to the church. The Pastor felt as though David lacked faith in the church’s system with these matters. The Pastor also felt undermined, for he had been the one directly responsible for the quality of the Foster Child’s meals.
Thus, feeling undermined and self-righteous, the Pastor took a moment that should have shed light on the truth and turned it into a moment of resentment against David. The Mayor also felt as though David was undermining him. His own son never came to him for the money to help with these meals, but instead took it completely on himself. Though the Pastor has confessed to the Mayor in the past to finding his obligations to the orphanage as taxing, he still would rather internalize these feelings of insecurity in his own faith rather than confront them.
So, this one moment of resentment would soon give way to both the Pastor and the Mayor turning a blind eye, when the town would come against David.
Thus, in the town like any other, generosity forced self-reflection; self-reflection was allowed to become resentment; resentment will give way to idleness; and, idleness will give way to death.
Who in this story chose to worship Love?
Part 4 of "The Mark" will be released, on this site, May 19th, 2016.