Sermon Illustrations

JUSTIN

I want to tell you about a 12-year-old boy we’ll call Justin. Justin never knew anything good. His parents, if you want to call them that, were completely without qualifications to birth the boy, having done so quite unintentionally, making far less effort to raise him than they made to conceive him. So, like many other boys of similar background, he literally grew up on the streets.

He had seen and done it all. By this young age he had already committed crimes that should have landed him in prison for a very long time. But, "fortunately" for Justin, in the crowd he spends time with, these crimes were everyday life largely hidden from mainstream society.

Everything he had, such as it was, was stolen. He rarely ate well and never on a plate. His language was foul, his manners atrocious. He was always dirty, always smelled bad. And the evil things that shock the average citizen either went ignored by him or, sometimes, it made him laugh. But mostly, he didn’t laugh, not really. Mostly he was just sad. Very, very sad. But, by now, he had grown numb to it.

One day Justin was picked up by the police (nothing new). But this time he was taken into a room and shown a large file. He had no idea the cops had so much dirt on him. They seemed to be aware of his crimes, but since there were so many boys like him, the police seemed to mostly ignored them. But he had gotten worse. Of course, in his culture he was getting better. He was able to steal without anyone detection, inflict pain without remorse, and even smile when he needed to. But he wasn’t just picking pockets any more. He was up to home invasions, mugging, carjacking, drug dealing, and other things I won’t mention here. He was actually considered to be very successful among his peers, destined for great things, well respected.

But this day his sat in an interrogation room with an iron clad case against him. He was going away for a very long time. He knew that he would be tried as an adult, this time he would not be able to get off by blaming his parents.

Just as his fate was sinking in, an extremely well dressed young man was brought into the room. He introduced himself as Joshua. He came representing a man that wished to adopt him.

Justin was incredulous. "What? Why? Who? What does it even mean?"

"As to the ’who’," replies the young man, "it is my father. He is the King of a foreign nation, though he spends much time in your land. As to the why, he has noticed you on his visits here and even has people watching you. He takes a great interest in you and is convinced that you are a great man inside the mind of a broken boy. He wants to adopt you and help you become that man. To put it short, he loves you. He talks about you all the time. Don’t get me wrong, you aren’t the only one he has sent me to bring home, but he acts like you are. He acts like you all are."

"Your dad is clearly out of his mind, Josh. And I am guessing that you are too."

"It would seem so, but he’s just unusual, as, I suppose, so am I. But he’s never wrong...about anything. And he’s absolutely determined to put all his vast resources into getting you, and others like you, up to your full potential."

"Why?"

"Because he can. Because he cares. Because nothing else makes sense. He’s just like this, and it’s what he loves to do."

"Has he seen my file?"

"He had it made. This is all the work of special investigations. It begins with how your parents came together and is thorough right up to the moment you were picked up. The ink is barely dry on some of this stuff."

"And still, he wishes to adopt me. There is something very wrong about this picture. Tell me, what does adoption mean exactly?"

"Well, it means that you immediately become a prince. Not much different from me, really. Everything that it is his is mine, and everything that is mine I share with you and the others measured out according to how cooperative you are."

"Ah ha, cooperative. That sounds like the catch to me. Explain it."

"Well, Justin, you will be retrained. From the ground up you will be completely re-educated on what life means and how you are to live it. In fact, you will no longer be called Justin. My Father has a special name for you that you will find out at the end of your process. In the meantime, you will be taught how to see yourself, your world, and your life. You will be given an almost entirely new picture of how to treat others. And, each of you, based on your particular skills and weaknesses, you will be given specific tools to help you in the re-education of others."

"That sounds easy enough. Why the emphasis on ’cooperation’? I am still missing something here."

"It isn’t easy. I am offering you something wonderful, but don’t ever think that I am offering you something easy. You will very quickly begin to come at odds with this training. The ideas you will be taught will sound completely wrong, and you will refuse most of it. There will be times when you will be very angry with my father. You’ll want to come back to your former lifestyle and will likely attempt to do so."

"What then, you have the cops pick me up again?"

"No. We simply wait. You’ll come back. My father is never wrong. You might take a while, but you’ll come back. Once you know my father, you’ll never see life the same again. All the things that make you happy today will seem bland by comparison or at best, they’ll simply remind you of him. No, you’ll come back. But you will have wasted a lot of time feeling sorry for yourself. It’s very painful to watch."

"So, if I accept this offer, my life as I know it is over?"

"Sort of. Actually the training takes place right here. You don’t leave."

"What? That’s nuts! How am I supposed to do that?"

"Well, a person doesn’t truly change unless he rises above that which has kept him down in the first place. We have training facilities all around to help you through this process. These facilities are run by people just like you. But this is why it takes cooperation. No one is going to force you to do anything. No coercion, no manipulation. You will be pushed, but you will have to choose to engage every step of the way. Otherwise, it will have no value and no real effect. This entire arrangement is built on trust. My father trusts you. So do I. You have to trust him, too. That’s what this is all about. The sooner and deeper you learn that, the more you’ll get out of this offer. But you must completely and thoroughly promise to give this your best effort."

"I’ve got to tell you, this seems way too good to be true. It’s like I won the lottery or something."

"It is good, real good. But it is true. And let me remind you, it is no picnic. You HAVE won the lottery, but you will not be spending the rest of your life sipping pina coladas on a beach somewhere. At least, not most of the time. When you are engaged, you will work like you’ve never worked before. It will hurt. You will struggle. I just want to make sure you understand this. But, if you completely surrender to the process, you will love it and the rewards are beyond your dreams."

Looking down at the table Justin asked, "What about this file? What about the cops? I can’t imagine they are going to let me off just because your dad’s a rich king?"

"Actually, no, they won’t. Nor should they. But we HAVE worked out a deal with the judge. I will be arrested in your place. I will serve your sentence."

Complete silence. Justin just stares at Joshua in shock. Not only at what he just heard, but at the fact that Joshua was smiling. "Joshua, do you have any idea what they will do to you in there?"

"I know EXACTLY what they will do to me in there."

Justin was used to pain. But he always feared prison. He was also used to fear and he could see that while Joshua was...

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