Once upon a time there was a powerful Sorcerer who had two young assistants, named John and Martin. They were foolish boys, not at all interested in serving their master, but only in competing with one another. You see, they loved being known as the Sorcerer’s assistants, and each boy wanted their village to see them as the one who is closest to the Sorcerer. They tried to grow beards like him, but produced only meager sprouts. They tried to wear his clothes when he was away, but looked ridiculous in such large sizes.
And because of their foolishness, they paid little attention when the Sorcerer often said, “Remember, my sons, that I was born a sorcerer, and you were not. Since you can never become a sorcerer, do not consider yourselves apprentices, like that stupid mouse. You are privileged to be my assistants, and nothing more.”
One day, the Sorcerer announced he would be traveling for two weeks to collect the ingredients for a new potion. He said to John and Martin, “My sons, I am leaving and will not return for a fortnight. I have written a note to each of you regarding your responsibilities during this time, which are many. Do not read each others’ notes, and do nothing apart from what is written in them. If you have trouble fulfilling these duties, consult the Great Manual, and you will find the answer you need. Goodbye for now!”
The Sorcerer turned around and in a moment, he was gone. The boys found their notes and read them silently.
“Oh man!” John said. “I can’t do all this stuff! What does yours say?”
“Forget it!” spouted Martin. “I’m not showing you mine.”
John walked to the window to see his master strolling down the path and over the hill. “Hey Martin! Have you ever wondered what’s in all those spellbooks on the wall?”
“Maybe.” John walked over to a tall shelf and scanned the titles. When he found an interesting one, he pulled it down and started leafing through it.
“Hey! Here’s that spell that makes him invisible!” John recited a long list of nonsense, and then stood there while nothing happened.
“No, that’s not it,” Martin said, “You’ve got to pronounce the J’s like Y’s” Martin recited it again accordingly. Again, nothing happened.
“Well, maybe it’s the inflection.”
“No it’s not… give me that!”
Sadly, things continued along this vein for the entire two weeks. John and Martin made a complete mess of the Sorcerer’s home, and managed to turn a few lamps into ducks. And then, to their shock, the Sorcerer was standing before them.
“Is it safe to assume, my sons, that you have completed nothing on your lists?”
“No… it was too much, Master!”
“Did you consult the Assistant’s Manual?” They said nothing.
“No, of course you didn’t. I should punish you severely for the damage you have done, but I will not.” The boys shot each other a glance of relief. The Sorcerer continued, “Instead I have merely replaced you. Say hello to Austin and Keisha.” John and Martin couldn’t say a word as they were ushered out, all they could think about was how young and silly Austin and Keisha looked. How could Master choose them? What was He thinking?
We have our instructions. But how much time do we spend actually carrying them out, as opposed to splitting theological hairs with each other, or trying to reproduce a work of God on our own? After decades of neglect, many, many Christian leaders will be shocked to see God replace them with their spiritual “inferiors”.