The Great Commission and God’s Law:
Pt. 3 – Evangelism Misconstrued
by Gerald R. Thompson*
MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS
The Evangelistic Perspective
Now let’s talk about the making converts part of the Great Commission. I mentioned at the beginning of this essay the modern evangelistic understanding of making disciples. Namely, that Christians are to gain converts through the process of evangelism (i.e., preaching the good news of the Gospel) to win souls or proselytize. Then, once people have been converted to Christianity, we are to train them to go out into the world evangelizing others, and this is what the process of discipleship mainly consists of.
Thus, the entire thrust of the Great Commission (according to this view) is evangelism, either by evangelizing directly, or evangelizing indirectly by preparing others to do it. The command to baptize is rolled up into the process of evangelism such that by keeping track of (i.e., counting) baptisms, we know how many people are being saved and brought into the Church. It is commonly asserted that all Christians are called to spread the Gospel, i.e., evangelize directly or indirectly.
The directive to teach all that Christ commanded is reduced to the evangelistic process, as though the only thing Jesus expects His followers to do is evangelize the lost. The only thing usually added to this expectation is that Christians will also lead holy lives that are pleasing to Jesus and by our example will serve to witness to the lost by our behavior. So even the call to sanctification (leading a godly life) is co-opted to serve, ultimately, an evangelistic purpose.
How sad. How myopic. And speaking as someone who was raised in that tradition from infancy, what a bunch of nonsense. I knew when I was a young teenager the evangelistic view was shallow and couldn’t possibly comprehend all that Christ wanted His followers to do. However, it took a number of years for me to find out what the alternative was – the alternative I now present in this essay.
Ask yourself what kind of Church you would get from many decades of the evangelistic view of the Great Commission. Why, exactly the one we have now among churches identifying themselves as evangelical. Where people are welcomed in with easy belief-ism, and by all means we don’t want to exclude or judge anyone, so nearly all forms of disobedience are accepted. A Church a mile wide and one inch shallow. A Church where everyone is on board but no one knows what they truly believe beyond what the pastor says. A church which, by its behavior and principles, is indistinguishable from the world around it.
Don’t blame those pesky parishioners who don’t get involved in church programs. Blame the clergy who aren’t teaching the laws of God and rail against all things legal, and the seminaries who teach that the ministry of the Church is just to love people and not judge them.
In a way, the modern fascination with evangelism is an impossible dream. Consider Mat. 24, picking up the discussion of “the sign of your coming and of the close of the age” at verse 9, where Jesus is speaking:
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Mat. 24:9-14.
It is clear from the context that the statement concerning preaching the gospel all over the world in verse 14 is a prediction. But many in the evangelical movement today consider it to be a call to action, which it clearly is not. By Jesus’ own words, when the prediction is fulfilled, the Tribulation will already have begun, and Christians will be persecuted, hated and killed worldwide. In other words, when the prediction is fulfilled, it won’t be because there is a healthy and thriving Church that will purposefully be preaching the gospel. Rather, it is the Tribulation itself that will propel the gospel around the world.
So while modern ministries spin their wheels trying to bring about the fulfillment of Mat. 24:14, none of that will really have anything to do with its fulfillment. Fulfillment will come about through persecution, not evangelism, and it will come when God decides it is time, not when church leaders decide it is time. Which is why I say, modern evangelistic efforts are chasing an impossible dream.
God has already told us how the world will be evangelized – since when does attempting to do the same thing through our own efforts ever become a winning strategy? How did things go for Abraham, when He tried to fulfill God’s promise through his own efforts? (He gave birth to the Arab-Israeli conflict that still persists today.)
If you have ever attended an evangelistic church, you’ve probably heard this logic: The Bible tells us God wants us to bear fruit. Bearing fruit means bringing people to Christ. (Here an analogy is often made to marriage, where bearing fruit means having children, so for Christians bearing fruit must mean something similar, in other words, fruit = people.) That being the case, now get out there and win souls! Yet, this too is nonsense.
The general call to bear fruit can be seen in scriptures such as Jn. 15:1-16 and Lk. 6:43-45. But the word fruit is not defined in those texts, so we must look elsewhere in scripture for the definition. According to Gal 5:22-23, fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Col. 1:10 indicates fruit is good works and increasing in the knowledge of God. Rom 6:21-22 says fruit is sanctification and eternal life. Perhaps the best summary statements are found in Phlp 1:11 and Heb. 12:11, where fruit is defined as righteousness – not soul-winning – which is entirely compatible with all of the preceding scriptures.
And what is righteousness? According to www.merriam-webster.com, it is “acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin.” So we might say, bearing fruit as a Christian means keeping God’s law. Not winning souls. Wow. What a concept.
God’s Express Plan for Evangelism
The idea that every Christian is called to evangelize the world is not only an impossible dream, it is a lie. The whole manner in which God structured the universal Church (i.e., the body of Christ) mitigates against it.
According to Eph. 4:11, God gave the Church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. The KJV expressly states what other Bible versions imply, that “he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” Whether the word some appears in the text or not, it is clear from the context that not everyone in the Church is an apostle, or a prophet, or a pastor and teacher.
Or an evangelist. No matter how you slice it, the number of people in the Church whom God has appointed to one of these special offices will always be a small minority – the vast majority of Christians will have other tasks. And the mere fact God appoints these people – they do not volunteer for the position, they are not elected to these offices, nor do they receive an office because of education, training or experience – means that these are specialized tasks to be carried out by those whom God alone has selected. It is not for men to saddle anyone with the burden of these offices, rather each person must be called by God and convinced of it in their own mind.
Friends, the very fact God gives only some in the Church to be evangelists completely negates the argument that all believers have a duty to evangelize others.
It is also clear from scripture that God is perfectly capable of bringing people to salvation entirely on His own, apart from any human intervention. Rom. 1:19-20 tells us, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Col. 1:23 informs us, “the hope of the gospel that you heard … has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven.” And John 1:9 tells us that the true light of Christ “enlightens everyone.”
So it isn’t just a bare knowledge of the existence of God which is displayed in the creation, nor only a knowledge of God’s power and His laws, but the very gospel of Christ itself which God makes known to all people.
Yes, I am fully aware of Rom. 10:14. “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” But are you aware of Rom. 10:18-20, in which Paul continues the discussion? “But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.'” That’s a quote from Ps. 19:4, talking about the law of nature. Further, “Isaiah is so bold as to say, I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.'”
All of which makes moot the argument that all believers have a duty to evangelize others. For God has undertaken this duty for Himself. Thus, to feel guilty or to make others feel guilty for not evangelizing enough is a despicable evil.
I am not arguing that Christ does not want some people to be evangelists. I am simply saying: a) He reserves the right to evangelize’ people directly without human intervention (as in the case of Paul himself); and b) to the extent Christ wants His Church to evangelize, He specially appoints people He deems most suitable for that task and gives them the responsibility of carrying it out. Evangelism is not a task for which every believer is responsible. Or well suited.
What else are we to say? If everyone is called upon to evangelize, then we might as well say all Christians are responsible to teach, to become pastors, to prophesy and to be apostles. You cannot just say, “Well, yes some people have a special calling for evangelism, but the rest of us still have a duty to be witnesses of the gospel,” unless you treat being a pastor and teacher, prophet or apostle the same way. Textual consistency requires us to understand and treat each of the offices God appoints the same as the others.
Would you ever say, “Well, sure some people are specially called to be apostles, but the rest of us all have a duty to act as apostles”? Would you ever say, “Some people are called as pastors and teachers, but we all have a duty to shepherd the flock”? Same analysis for prophets. So in the end, no, you would probably never say those things.
Because if you do, the inevitable conclusion is that all Christians have individual responsibility to perform all of the tasks of the Church, regardless of whether God has appointed anyone to a particular office or not. Which effectively assigns to all believers the same responsibilities as each other, nullifying the special appointment of God. What possible difference can it make for God to select some people for special offices, if in fact al believers must carry out the same tasks anyway? It makes God’s special appointments of no effect.
Plus, it does great violence to the concept of the body of Christ, which specifically provides that each member of the body is different. While they all work together for the benefit of the whole, the function of each member is in fact different from others.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Rom. 12:6-8.
To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 1 Cor. 12:8-11.
This is God’s plan for the Church, and for evangelism. And it’s a good plan. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Gen. 1:31. The last thing anyone needs is a counterfeit plan invented by men. “Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.” 1 Tim 6:20-21.
I do not deny the validity of evangelism, I only deny its preeminence in describing the mission of the Church (as something every believer should do). Evangelism is a legitimate function of the Church, but it has never been the only thing the Church is to do, the main thing, or even the most important thing. Nor is evangelism a duty to which all believers are called to fulfill.
THE REAL REASON CHURCHES DON’T TEACH GOD’S LAWS
It’s not that difficult to understand why churches today no longer teach God’s laws. It’s because they no longer practice God’s laws. If people don’t practice them, how can they teach them? But it is more than just a wilful ignorance of God’s laws – it is a wilful disobedience of God’s laws. Churches today don’t want to know about God’s laws because they don’t want to follow those rules anymore. Modern churches have joined the sons of disobedience.
Can you imagine a church today teaching that divorce is wrong except in the cases of adultery or abandonment? That a church elder must be a husband of one wife, who demonstrates he is able to manage his household well? That gross immorality (such as adultery, homosexuality or harlotry) is not to be tolerated in the church? Or that a woman should not teach or exercise authority over a man, but is to remain quiet in the church? Don’t be absurd. It’s laughable. Yet, just as Jesus Himself has not changed over the years (Heb. 13:8), God’s laws have not changed with the times either. Nor should they.
I once mentioned to the pastor of a church I attended that I was concerned a number of men, including those on the worship team up on stage, were wearing hats during the entire church service. I referenced 1 Cor. 11:4 (“Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head.”) I briefly pointed out that the reasoning given by Paul for this admonition was based entirely on the creation account of Gen. 1. As a result, the admonition was not culturally based, limited as to time, place or persons, but was rooted in the creation of humanity, and therefore was part of the eternal moral laws of God that never change.
The whole conversation on that subject took only as long as it took you to read the previous paragraph, just a couple of minutes. I did not elaborate, wax eloquent, or attempt to preach to the preacher. I just said, “Don’t you think that’s something we might want to consider?” Do I need to say it? My words fell on deaf ears. No questions came back about whether my analysis was good or bad. No effort was made to say, “That’s interesting. I’ll look it up.” Not so much as a, “I’ll mention it to the worship leader and see what he says.” He just said, “Nice talking to you.”
I know some of the rules I have mentioned are controversial (although, they are only controversial because people don’t want to follow them). But men wearing hats in church? That’s not controversial. If you grew up in the 1970’s or earlier (especially in the 60’s or earlier, when most men wore hats), the rule was universally understood and accepted in every church of every denominational stripe. But the pastor I spoke to was 20 years younger than me, and he came to Christ in his twenties (not as a kid like I did), so this common practice was completely foreign to him. That’s OK – he can’t help that – but his reaction (not even a marginal interest or curiosity) was entirely on him.
You might wonder why there is such an adversity to God’s laws among God’s people. Part of it is due to a false understanding of the whole law vs. grace thing already discussed. Part of it is due to the shift towards an evangelistic paradigm, where everything a church is and does is viewed through the lens of evangelism (and therefore nothing else matters). A lot of it is due to a profound ignorance of God’s laws among His people. But the main reason, I believe, is that people simply don’t want to be bound by those rules anymore. Christians as a group have become disobedient children flaunting their rebellion.
Please allow me to paraphrase from Jer. 5:1-5:
Run to and fro through the assemblies of the Church, look and take note! Search to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her. Though people say, “Praise Jesus,” they swear falsely. O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent. Then I said, “These are only the flock; they have no sense; for they do not know the way of the Lord, the justice of their God. I will go to the church leaders and will speak to them, for they know the way of the Lord, the justice of their God.” But they all alike had broken the yoke; they had declared themselves free from the laws of God.
Have you noticed? Christians have become very adept at justifying their non-compliance. We want to be inclusive, and not drive people away. We want to minister to the hurting, and not drive them away. We want to make the Gospel appealing, and not drive people away.
Allow me to describe what is really going on here: Christians have decided to sacrifice obedience for the sake of evangelism – that somehow those two things pull against each other. So churches do the one that leads to growth (numerically and financially) and leave behind the one that tends to winnow the flock (and church budgets). Then we clothe our decisions in a false interpretation of the Great Commission to make it look like it was really God’s will when it wasn’t.
It’s pretty pathetic, when you think about it. As if God would saddle His church with a self-defeating task. As if the Church would not prosper if it fulfilled the entirety of the Great Commission. Yet, that’s the way people treat it.
The modern church should take a lesson from Judges 7 and the story of Gideon. When God prepared the people for battle, He whittled down the forces from 32,000 to just 300. There was no intention on God’s part to be as inclusive as possible. God did not need or want as many people as possible to feel good about serving Him. There was no motivation for God to make military service appealing to the masses. From God’s perspective, He could do more with a very few hard core followers, than He could with a great many marginal followers. If only churches would do the same.
But then, that would require thinking in military terms. Military thinking sees the Christian life as combat, where we fight evil, enemies are destroyed, and victory is marked by conquest. But churches today don’t want to do that. The modern church sees the Christian life as an opportunity for ministry, where we help the hurting, tear down walls between people, and success is marked by souls saved. This probably explains why you never hear songs like I’m In The Lord’s Army, and Onward Christian Soldiers in churches anymore – songs that used to be staples in children’s Sunday School. Lord knows, we don’t want to raise confrontational children! Or even worse, kids who grow up to be confrontational adults.
Although, maybe it helps explain why I’m so darn confrontational – because I grew up with those songs as a child. It’s staggering to realize how far everyday Christianity has fallen, just in my lifetime. Oh look, I see we’ve gotten to the root of the problem at last! It can’t be you, it must be me. Surely God must be pleased with modern churches that are kinder and gentler, shallow and weak, over those nasty and judgmental churches of the past that kept our nation strong and prevented us from going the way of the rest of the world. There’s no apostasy to see here, folks. Move along, move along.
Learn to Love the Law of God
Sure, there are scriptures that state Jesus came to save the lost and believers are encouraged to share the Gospel with others. However, there are no verses in my Bible that I can find to the effect that when Jesus returns He will measure the Church, praise or reward the Church, or attribute holiness to the Church based upon the number of people saved, converts gained, or the effectiveness of evangelistic outreach. Not one. So I will issue a challenge. If you have such a verse in your Bible, please show it to me. I don’t think such a verse exists.
Many Christians believe that when Jesus returns He will ask His Church, “Why didn’t you reach more of the lost?” I don’t think for one second that is what He will ask. I am absolutely convinced that instead Jesus will ask, “Why didn’t you teach and obey my commandments?” But the people can’t obey commands they have never heard discussed. And pastors can’t teach commands they have never thought about as commands (and not merely as a gateway to moralizing, personalizing, allegorizing, Christolizing, and/or evangelizing).
Teach the commands of God as commandments and stop viewing them through the lens of something else. We don’t need to, and God does not expect us to, baptize God’s laws in some religious holy water in order to make them a suitable discussion topic in the Church. God’s laws are perfectly good just the way they are and we should teach them without varnish or religious gloss.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward. Ps 19:7-11.
Consider what else the Psalmist knew that the Church has abandoned:
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.
I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me! (Ps 119:1-8).
Yes, I know Gentiles are not under the Jewish laws. We’ve already covered that. Remember what I said earlier? A far as non-Jews are concerned, we are under the laws of nature and nature’s God no more or less now than we were before Jesus’ First Advent. Gentiles are under the exact same laws of God now (including the divine covenants) as we were in 1000 B.C. And 1000 B.C. was when David the Psalmist lived.
Look at all the legal terminology in Psalm 119: law, testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, and rules. Each of these words is used repeatedly throughout Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible. What could possibly be the reason, I wonder? Is it to give emphasis? Nah, it couldn’t be. Since David was a Jew, he couldn’t possibly have known anything about God’s laws for all people, could he? Well, could he? Or was he divinely ignorant while he was divinely inspired?
I once heard a sermon on Psalm 119 in which the head pastor concluded the psalm was written as an admonition for us to read our Bibles. I went up to him after the service and asked him whether the presence of all the legal terminology in the psalm might suggest that God actually wants us to study his laws, as laws. He paused for a second, turned to the woman standing next to me, and said, “And you ma’am – What is your question?” He never spoke to me again, though we had attended that church for several years, and we were actually friends.
Ten years later, when my son was married by another minister in the same church, we visited the church to help prepare for the wedding. My wife and the head pastor’s wife quickly fell into conversation to catch up because at one time we had all been quite close. The head pastor sat in a pew on the other side of the aisle from us and glared at me the whole time, never saying a word.
That pretty much sums up the general receptivity of evangelical pastors to the laws of God. And it’s a damn shame. It’s not the Church’s ignorance alone that brings it shame – it’s the stubborn unwillingness of Church leaders to study and teach the principles of God’s laws, and their reckless disregard of things God has placed squarely in front of them for correction, reproof and instruction. And focusing on traditional evangelism isn’t going to solve the problem.
Please don’t take anything I’ve said as being anti-evangelism. I know that some of you, having gotten this far in the essay, will conclude I am anti-evangelism and nothing I can say is likely to alter your opinion of me. But at least know it is not my intention to be anti-evangelism.
What is my intention? To demonstrate that teaching the commands of Jesus, i.e., God’s laws, is just as important as evangelism is; and teaching God’s laws and evangelism are both important to the body of Christ. Therefore, as much effort, resources and divine imperative we attach to God’s laws should be matched or duplicated to the effort, resources and divine imperative we attach to evangelism.
And if we have to choose between inclusiveness and obedience in describing the overall mission of the Church, it is better to err on the side of obedience. Inclusiveness is a false god.
I don’t want to remove evangelism from the mission of the Church, I want to balance it out with the full counsel of God in other areas as God intended. This isn’t my agenda – it is God’s agenda. I merely point out we haven’t been following His agenda as closely as we thought. Don’t change the way you look at the Great Commission for my sake – do it for Christ’s sake.
A Kingdom Parable
Once there was a kingdom which consisted of a continent surrounded by water. The king, who was in fact the king of the world, told his people to watch over his kingdom while he was going away for a while. He said, “It has not been given to you to rule over the entire world yet. Rule over and subdue this continent well, and when I return I will extend my kingdom over the entire earth and you will rule it together with me. If you are faithful over a little; I will set you over much.”
And he told his people, “These are my instructions for you to follow while I am gone. Make disciples of all people who come to the kingdom from elsewhere, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you previously. Be my witnesses starting here at the eastern coastline, and then subdue the earth and take dominion as you go inland until you reach the city of the king. Destroy every opinion raised against the knowledge I have given you, and take every thought captive to obey my commands. Be ready to punish every disobedience, when your own obedience is complete.”
With these words, the king went away. The people tried to do as the king instructed, but all of their initial efforts became abandoned and the people gradually moved westward around the coastline leaving their task largely undone. At one point the people decided to “get organized,” putting into place a bureaucracy the king never told them to have. For a long time, the people argued over who was really in charge. Eventually, a splinter group moved further west than all the others and started to make real progress.
Not only did this group of people welcome newcomers from the lands of unbelief who arrived on their shores, but they made real, substantial progress in conquering and occupying the inland areas of the kingdom. They knew that to accomplish their task they needed a plan, not a bureaucracy. So they trained people in personal piety and godly living so they would be mature enough to leave the familiarity of the beach.
The plan called for scouts – brave individuals who would mark out the territory by taking every thought captive to the king’s commands – to lead the way. They would have to be followed by pioneers, i.e., those who would establish outposts of godly thought and practical living in every area of life and every area equally, making it easier for permanent settlers to follow. Gradually, the people would fill the whole land of the kingdom as each person made progress towards maturity.
Fundamental to the plan was a recognition that the people were composed of many members who work together, but are not all the same. Each member is free to fulfill his own purpose for the good of the whole. Some would need to stay near the beach welcoming new people, but most of the people had other gifts and callings that would need to be exercised inland. They knew that in order to fulfill the king’s commands, most people would need to leave the beach.
But as the people made their way inland to the point where they could just glimpse the city of the king in the distance, a group of beachcombers, wise in their own estimation, rose to power and started taking over. The beachcombers, wanting to feel important, starting teaching others that everyone needed to stay on the beach and rescue people coming to the land from across the water. They even said that the mission of the people was not what they thought it was – that their real mission was to welcome as many people as possible from the lands of unbelief.
The beachcombers stopped sending scouts, pioneers and settlers to the inland areas, insisting that when he returned, the king would take everyone to the city of the king. Gradually, the central part of the kingdom became a wilderness again, as the people who had settled there passed on and no one replaced them.
Back on the beach, people started setting up permanent settlements and ministry shops. The barkers would call out to passers by, “Step right up, folks. This is your one-stop shop. We’ve got creeds, confessions and statements of faith. Everything you ever need to know, and all that everyone can agree on. Don’t get caught up in worldly pursuits; all that is true to the Gospel is right here.”
Pretty soon, the beachcombers convinced people to build fences and barriers to keep anyone from leaving the beach. At a gate in the fence, there is a stop sign declaring, “Rules (for your own protection): Stop. Get permit to leave the beach. No permits today. Same thing tomorrow.” Next to the gate is a salvation workers recruiting station, where people are most enthusiastic. “Saving souls is the most important thing anyone can do. Therefore, it is the only thing anyone is allowed to do.”
Anyone who wonders aloud what it might be like to leave the beach for the inland areas is told: “There’s nothing out there to see, and if you go, you’ll be leaving the Gospel. Also, if you leave, don’t expect anyone to support you. In fact, you are supposed to support us here at the beach.”
Those who venture into the wilderness and attempt to go back to let others know what they found will encounter the gatekeepers. The gatekeepers tell everyone, “What you think you found is just your opinion. Don’t tell anyone your opinions – this will just confuse others. Why can’t you be a team player? But in truth we get along just fine without you.”
Finally, after many years, the king returned. His people anxiously waited for him to say, “Well done, good and faithful servants.” But instead, the king said, “You wicked and lazy servants! You should have made the land occupied and prosperous, but you only stayed on the beaches and left the inland areas unconquered.” The people protested, “But Lord, look how many people we have brought into your kingdom! See them all on the beaches here.”
To which the king replied, “You should have followed my instructions more closely and paid attention to the weightier matters of the law instead of neglecting them. Your works are but wood, hay and straw, and I will burn them up even though you will survive the fire. Instead of being rewarded, you will be called the least in my kingdom.”