A Parable of Three Pastors

There were once three pastors riding together in a taxi. They were on their way to a very important evangelical conference to discuss very important evangelical things when the taxi driver, who was texting his brother very important news about their fantasy football league, took a slight detour and careened off a very high bridge. The taxi cab cratered on the ground below. The driver, as it usually happens, walked away unscathed, but the three pastors soon found themselves within in the walled gates of the City of Heaven.

As the three chattered excitedly amongst themselves about the majesty and splendor of the whole thing, a figure approached them. It was the King of Heaven, and in his arms was a beautiful purple robe.

“Welcome home, my sons,” he said. “I have brought a gift for the greatest of you three. Tell me each of you, how many souls have you saved?”

“My Lord,” said the first, bowing low, “I have saved thousands. We have a dozen public baptisms every week, a radio show, and we have church campuses in five cities.”

“My Lord,” said the second, bowing even lower, “I have saved tens of thousands. We have a hundred public baptisms a week, a television show, and we have church campuses in five countries.”

“My Lord,” said the third, showing the King his empty hands, “I am not worthy to even bow before you. I have only a small country church with only a few members, and it was neither by my words nor my works that they were saved. In truth, I could not save them or even myself. It is your grace alone that saves men, and it is your effort alone that brings men into your presence. “

The King nodded to the third pastor.

“You are right to say so,” said the King, and he draped the robe around the third pastor’s shoulders.

“But what of us? We proclaimed you to millions, and now millions more know your name!” cried the other two.

“Was it your fame that made you great, or my grace? Many know my name, but do they know my Spirit? Do the members of your flock deny themselves, humble themselves, and take up the cross? A building with a thousand corpses is not a church but a mausoleum, and their gathering together is not a ministry but a burial.”

October 2013.