Once upon a time, there was a huge kingdom. This kingdom was nothing like you read about in fairy tales, though. There were no dragons, no evil witches, no knight-in-shining-armor or Prince Charming, and no girls with excessively long hair, strange sleeping behaviors, or habits of staying out a little too late past midnight.
No, this was a very special kingdom – but not in any way that you and I know kingdoms.
The kingdom was called Himmel, and it was ruled by a good and upright king – both righteous and loving. He lived in a breathtakingly and indescribably fantastic palace high upon a hill. From there, he ruled the people of his kingdom, dealing punishment when necessary, but showing mercy whenever possible. He was kind and compassionate toward his subjects while still implementing the laws that made his kingdom run.
However, there was one law throughout the kingdom that stood out among the others. You see, the king had just one son, Justin, who was just like his father. But this unique law stated that any man, woman, or child who could uphold the laws of the king as his son Justin did would be considered a son of the king. In essence, anyone who obeyed all of the kings laws would be an adopted son of the king, with almost as much privilege and inheritance as Justin himself!
The problem with this law, though, was that the kings subjects were very evil. They committed crimes day in and day out – both small and large. In fact, it sometimes seemed to the king that his subjects were committing evil just to spite him. This saddened the king greatly. He sincerely wished for the people of his kingdom to become like his sons, but it seemed that none of them were even willing to try. Thus, the king continued to rule his kingdom justly, righteously, and mercifully, but in chronic sadness.
On one day of no particular significance, Justin looked upon his father’s sadness and it became his own. Thus he resolved to do something about it. He explained his plan to the king who was reluctant at first, but then seeing Justin’s plan to be good, he agreed.
So early the next morning, Justin rose and put on his royal robes, exiting his father’s immense palace and entering the dark town below in full royal glory. As soon as he exited the doors of his father’s mansion, he encountered a man walking by. “Would you like to see the king?” Justin asked. The man just pushed him aside and continued walking, muttering something about privileged royalty.
But immediately after him, a woman walked by with a bowl of supplies on her head. She was obviously heading to the market to sell her goods. “Would you like to visit the king’s palace?” Justin politely asked her as she passed by. The woman stopped, stared at Justin, and then gave him a scornful look as she continued on her way.
Not much further on, a young boy was shouting news to the townspeople in an effort to get whatever money people would throw into his tin can. Walking up, Justin smiled at the boy and said exuberantly, “Please, come with me and see the king!” The boy didn’t reply, but began shouting a new headline. “Son of the King goes Crazy and Asks Townspeople to Come into the Royal Palace!”
Dejected, Justin walked away from the crowd. Who wouldn’t want to see the most compassionate and wonderful ruler in all history? He couldn’t understand why the people weren’t flooding to him in a desperate desire to enter the king’s palace. It perplexed him and he found himself wandering toward depression. But as he raised his eyes back toward his father’s palace, he took up new courage and continued through the town, asking everyone he met the same general question, “Would you like to meet the king?” Unfortunately, at the end of the day, there was not one soul throughout this whole town of Himmel who responded affirmatively to his question. By the end of the day, Justin was bruised from being pushed out of the way so many times, and wet from being spat upon. But Justin’s courage did not fail him completely just yet. For Justin had a Plan B.
Staying that night in a local inn, Justin arose early the next morning. He went out to the gate of the town – located on the edge of Himmel – just before dawn. And as the sun rose, the gates were opened, and Justin left his father’s Kingdom, heading toward the towns of the next great kingdom, the Kingdom of Erde. But Justin’s departure was not known or seen by the townspeople. Or if it was seen, it was not realized; for Justin had shed his royal robes as he went out of the inn and dressed himself instead in a common blacksmith’s uniform. Thus the people did not recognize him.
After his departure from his father’s kingdom, Justin traveled all that morning until he arrived at one of the closest towns of Erde. There, he began to ask the people of Erde the same general question as he had the people of Himmel: “Would you like the meet the king of Himmel?”
Now the people of Erde were very familiar with the king of Himmel, and his righteousness and greatness were known throughout the land. Some of the Erdiens respected the people of Himmel because of their king. But many Erdiens did not like the people of Himmel at all. So when they were approached by a man wearing an obviously Himmellian uniform and asking them to join him in his king’s palace, many people responded the same way as the people of Himmel did. They were callous and rough with Justin; but even more so, the people of Erde became abusive as Justin tirelessly asked everyone he met on the street and in the markets the same question.
But some people listened. And they followed Justin as he continued along the way.
In this way Justin traveled from town to town through the Kingdom of Erde. His following slowly grew larger, but the abuse became more and more loathsome. People would not allow him into inns. They spat on him and and slugged him; tripped him and kicked him. When they found him among the poor asking for money, they purposefully gave pennies to those around him while leaving him empty-handed. His followers did the best they could to support the poor man; but they had little, for they had left everything.
Finally, at the end of three weeks, Justin returned to the gates of Himmel. But when the gatekeeper looked down, he saw a very thin man – bruised all over his body with tattered and mildewed clothes that smelled of spittle, and the gatekeeper refused to let him and his Erdien folowers pass.
However, when the king heard the news that there was a man at the gate in Justin’s condition, he knew immediately that it was his son. He leapt from his throne, hurried out of his palace down the long path to the gate, pushed the gatekeeper aside, and opened the gate himself. As soon as Justin was inside, the king gave him a great hug and ordered his servants who had followed him to clean Justin up and take him back to the palace. In the same way, as each of Justin’s now numerous followers passed before the king of Himmel into his kingdom, he gave them a welcoming hug and invited each one to a huge feast that evening in all their honor.
And so this feast came about that evening. After everyone had gone up to the king’s enormous palace and washed themselves to a semi-presentable state, they entered into the king’s mammoth ballroom, filled with one large circular table and chairs all around it. At every chair, each of the guests found his own nameplate – though none recalled giving the king his name. After everyone had seated themselves, the king entered with Justin, his very own son, who was shining like gold in the sun with pride over his new friends (and the makeover he received from his father’s servants helped a lot, too). The two sat down at the head of the table, and the whole room fell silent.
Slowly the king stood up solemnly. “Today is a very happy day for me, for my son has returned after three very harsh weeks of traveling throughout your kingdom. I had agreed to let him travel disguised throughout your kingdom in hopes that you would know of my power and justice and therefore treat a servant of mine with kindness, but I see that many did not.
“However, if my son cares about you all so much as to travel throughout your kingdom and endure all the abuse he encountered just to bring you to my grand house,” the king paused for effect and then suddenly a bright smile spread all across his face, “then I would be honored to call all of you my sons as well. And so shall the law be changed henceforth: That whoever follows my son, Justin will be like my son, as he truly is.”
With a raise of his glass, the king toasted his speechless guests. And then an uproar of “Hooray!” and “Long live the King!” and “Praise Justin!” went up from the palace and could be heard all throughout the kingdom of Himmel. After this, the grandest of feasts began, far more extravagant than any of the guests could have ever imagined. Every one of them was ecstatic about being in the presence of such an awesome king.
The celebration lasted a whole week. And so it remained a law throughout the lands of Himmel and Erde that every man, woman, or child who followed Justin (and it was no longer necessary to follow the laws of his kingdom), would be considered a son of the king of the kingdom of Himmel.
“So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that our faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3:24-29
This is simply a fun allegory that I started a few weeks back, while I was in Ferkessedougou awaiting my elbow surgery. You may not find any of the ideas within too surprising, but I wanted to start with this foundational story before I continued it with my next, A Fable About Fathers. So be on the lookout for that! 😀