It was the third LSS session yesterday, and the topic was Salvation. We know very well that Jesus died for every one of us. We know that, the faithful day two millennia ago, Jesus bore the unbearable pain, pouring out His precious blood to wash us clean, whiter than snow. But, what if we view it from the eyes of God the Father? And, why are we still unwilling to give up everything to follow God? Worse still, why are we still falling into sin?
The following story was part of the session presented by X Man. Some minor details may not be the same as I am dictating the passage based on the important points that I remember, and with additional dynamics to express how I felt when I heard the story.
There was an old man who lived peacefully in a countryside house. Day by day, there were birds that flocked around the old man's house. The old man, a man who loved nature, loved the birds and enjoyed the birds flapping and chirping around him. He would feed the birds in the mornings and evenings. He even built a wooden hut for the birds to build their nests just outside his house. And when he's free, he'd sit by the porch and listened to the birds singing, and on and off, he would pat the birds as they perched on his shoulders.
All went well, and day by day the life of the old man and the birds were just as normal. Then one day, a young man moved to a vacant house just next door to the old man. The young man seemed hostile, and he did not even talk or respond when the old man greeted him. Nevertheless, neither of them seem to bother each other much; the old man had his birds, the young man has his life to carry on.
Some days later, as the old man woke up in one morning, he heard loud clanking noise coming from next door. He peeped through the window, and found out that the young man was making himself a large and beautiful place that attractws the bird. It looked like a cage, but one thing was, the door was open wide. Within it was colorful ornament and decoration. The old man wondered what he's up to, but looking at the young man's effort of building the cage, he thought the latter could be a bird lover as well. So, he left the young man and his cage alone.
After the cage was built, the old man noticed that, there were less birds perching on the nest that he built - and less birds singing to him. He noticed that, instead of flying around his house, the birds now ventured into the new colorful cage that the young man built, and they enjoyed the new environment and the plentiful supply of food that the young chap laid for them. Day by day, the birds left the old man and stayed in the cage. Eventually, all the birds stopped going to the old man, except for one single bird - a beautiful bright yellow canary. The canary, despite losing its friends, kept on lingering around the old man, singing to him, pecking food from his hands, and perching on his shoulder. It was always there - it could somehow feel and know whether the old man was happy or sad, and it was always there to cheer him up. The old man, though sad because of the loss of his birds, was yet happy because of the yellow canary.
And, so, day by day, the old man could still hear the singing of the birds from afar, but he did notice one thing. The singing sound gradually gets lesser and lesser. And, until one day, there were no singing of birds at all, all he could hear was his yellow canary singing. Curiously, he peeped over to see what happened to the birds. To his dismay, he saw the young man with his hand grabbing one of the birds, and began mocking the bird, jeering, "stupid bird, silly bird", and occasionally slapping the bird and sqeezing the bird. The bird helplessly struggled to make itself free, but in vain. The young man was also holding a knife, and as the old man observed, the young man began cutting the bird's leg off! What a horrible scene!! The old man's heart ached. Then, as the old man looked around, he noticed that most of the birds were injured. Some had their wings cut off, some had their legs amputated, some had their feather plucked, et cetera. And the cage was locked at that time - the birds were trapped and could not escape.
The old man told himself, "The young man is too much!!! I cannot allow this to continue to happen on my beloved birds. I am going to negotiate with him to release the birds." And so, the old man walked over to the young man's house, and asked him to set the birds free.
The young man snobbishly said, "Old man, this is none of your business."
The old man replied, "But what you did is not right. You are hurting the innocent birds."
To this, the young man said, "Well, I did not force them in. They flew in by their own free will. And you are saying I am not right. What kind of logic is that, huh, old man??"
"Alright. Look, I can give you any price if you could allow the birds to be free."
"What? What do you think, I am a beggar? Look at this, do you think I have no money? I bought myself a beautiful house, and I made a cage for all these silly birds wo wants themselves to be imprisoned. Money, I have a lot."
"Young man, what do you want? Tell me, what do you want me to do in order for the birds to be free?"
"Okay, since you ask, let me tell you. I just want one thing from you. And if you agree, I will open the cage door. But let me tell you, after the deal is made, neither you nor I can interfere. The birds have to fly out on their own!"
"I want your yellow canary. Tell you what, I really hate it. I can't believe it is so loyal to you, and would never come to my cage at all!"
"What?" The old man despaired. The yellow canary was his only precious belonging, and he loved it very dearly.
"Give the canary to me, or leave the rest alone - for me to 'play with'," the young man jeered.
Turning around sadly, he looked at his yellow canary. The canary, looking at his eyes, sort of knew something was wrong. It did not sing to him as before, but it flew over to his hand and perched on it, looking right through his sad and horrific eyes.
The old man said, "I am sorry, my love, but I have to do this. I hope you understand."
After saying that, he grabbed the canary on his hand gently. The canary tried to jerk away in the beginning, but eventually it obediently gave in. With a heavy heart, he handed his beloved canary over to the young man, who was thinking that this old man must be crazy. The birds are not going to leave this cage, the young man thought.
After getting hold of the poor canary, the young man began to tie its wings and legs right above the cage door. Then, silently, the young man opened the cage door - no sound was made - not even one bird except the canary was aware that the door was open.
Holding his knife, the young man mocked at the canary. "Silly bird, stupid bird... Hahahaha!!!!" Then, he began slashing at the canary's body. The once shining bright yellow canary was soon covered with fresh red blood, as it painfully bore the severe cuts. The blood eventually flowed down and formed a blood line across the top and down the side of the cage door. Looking at the suffering canary, the old man wept.
Soon after, the injured birds began to be distracted over the noise of the chirping pain and the laughter of the young man. They immediately saw that their beautiful friend was dying. And suddenly they were aware that the cage door was open wide. One by one, most of the birds flew, hopped, and limped across the open gateway to freedom. And, as they passed by the gateway, the blood from the dying canary dripped on them.
Few hours later, the cage was almost empty, leaving few birds that were either too wounded to take flight or too discouraged to escape. And eventually, due to loss of blood and deep cuts, the yellow canary died. The old man, sad and heartached, turned away. He knew that he lost his most beloved canary, but he was glad that his sacrificial act had saved many birds from suffering and certain death.
And so, the old man so loved the birds that he gave his beloved canary, so that the birds that believed in its sacrifice would not die in the cage but have eternal freedom. Err... sounds weird, huh? C'mon, get a grip!! Let me re-phrase the number of hope.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
The old man (God the Father) owned the birds (all of us), and built a house (Paradise) for them, and gave them food (Bread of Heaven/Tree of Life). However, the young man (the devil) came and tempted the birds into his cage (sin), locked it, tortured the birds (leading to death). The old man, wanting to save them, gave his beloved canary (God the Son), so that it died (on the Cross) to save the birds.
What happened to the few birds that refused to escape? Are we also like that, wounded by sin, but refused to accept the sacrifice of Jesus and be dead of sin and rise up in freedom? The door to Heaven was opened by the sacrifice of Jesus. He has stood up 2000 years ago, saying to each and every one of us: You are dirty. You cannot meet My Father. But let Me cleanse you with My Blood, so that you will be clean in front of my Father.
The door is open. What should we do?
Will we accept Jesus as our Savior?
Will we renounce our sinful life in the past, and live a new life worthy of God's sacrificial love?
Are we willing to renew our life in Christ?
How should we respond?