A slim waitress brings a coffee to each of the men. She is plain, and seemingly wants no part in the conversation that has obviously moved the emotions of the poor man. She is quick to arrive and quicker to leave.
While the prideful man remains purely analytical and unaffected, he is confused – a state he despises. The rationale of what has just been described to him is a pain to his intellect. “Well… then carry on.”
The poor man thrusts his spirit back to earth in hopes to meet this man where he is. He knows he cannot speak of things from above in plain terms to him. While reaching for his coffee, he joyfully appeases the prideful man’s wishes. “As simple as I can express, man was God’s creation who defiled the image he created him in, which was God’s own image.” After attempting to cool the hot coffee with his raw breath, he continues, “This defilement was called sin. Do you follow?”
He takes a prudent and careful sip, “Then I will continue, but you must remember each proposition. For nothing will make sense in and of itself; each premise is contingent upon and concerned with the other.” The poor man pauses, and the prideful man nods in agreement. “Man’s rebellion substituted God with items of his creation – animals, trees, the sun, the moon, and more detrimental: themselves. Humanity exalted lesser things, and placed them on the throne that was only meant for God. The essence of man’s malfeasance is that of idolatry.”
The prideful man interjects a question while the poor man takes a breath, “Now this idolatry you speak of…” He reaches for the cream and sugar. “It has been committed by every person who has ever walked the earth? I look around and I see many faces, many souls. I have to believe that not one is virtuous?”
As the prideful man prepares his coffee, the poor man responds, “You do good to acknowledge the souls around us. For there are natural men and women surrounding us, going about their livelihood, benightedly aware of their true condition. This is what I spoke of earlier when I mentioned the ‘delusion of self-sufficiency’ that every man is or was once under. Moreover, you not only recognize the bodies of men and women around us, but you appreciate the spirituality of every body: their souls. By your own confession, there is a spiritual realm. and further there must be spiritual disruptions.”
“Well, yes I would assume so.” In further thought, the man tastes his coffee. “But I am not sure.”
“I am not so sure on the distinction either, but the point must be made that their are things we cannot directly observe, analyze, or judge. That being said, it should not surprise us that those around us may be, in contrast to their defensed front, deeply disgruntled. It does not strike me as odd because it is just as I once was. I fooled so many, even myself at times, into thinking I was tolerable and satisfactory. However, God is not able to be hoodwinked. There will come a day when we will face him as judge, and nothing will be withheld; we will answer for what we have done, those things both known and unknown to the natural world.”
Restlessly looking for a point of penetration, the prideful man responds, “Why would such a God be awfully offended by man’s meddling, or idolatry towards creation? Is that such a horrible wrongdoing? I understand that you believe them to be ‘made in his image’ – whatever that means – but if he is so much higher than us in every approach, why let man affect his being? Maybe better said is: why let man foil his goodness?”
The poor man places down his coffee and takes a breath. “It is rooted in our depraved nature to think ourselves to be better than we actually are. We gauge sinfulness differently than God does. To us, we are not too offended when a young child supposedly pours out its approval on a small stuffed animal over its loving parents. We may even say it’s cute. Nevertheless, idolatry towards God does not work this way. Considering the example of the child and its stuffed animal, that teddy bear offers the child no harm. It is innocent for the child to enjoy his or her gifts from his or her parents. However, sin is not an innocent and safe pleasure. It kills and destroys.”
The prideful man stares at the poor man for him to continue to explain.
“Maybe that was not the best analogy; analogies are always insufficient anyways.” They both chuckle and the poor man moves forward. “Plainly, God, in his perfect justice and holiness, tells man that the price for their prideful idolatry is death. Your answer may be seen here: that God was primarily offended and enraged by the imitate relationship man had spoiled. The scene depicted is not of an unruly and angry dictator who is detrimentally affected by his subjects, but a holy father who has lost the affectionate touch with his most cherished creation. And even this fatherly allusion is insufficient in regards to the magnitude of God’s love and necessary discipline. God is not changed; man is changed. God’s goodness is not foiled, man is. God remains constant, yet his love must take on a different form: wrath. For I have heard it said that ‘wrath is love’s response to sin’. It is only the immutability of God’s character that allows him to punish sin. In full, God did not change from creation to the fall of man, man did.”
Apparently sufficed, the prideful man motions to the waitress for another coffee.
(To Be Continued)