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Chapter 21 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

where jesus is chapter 21

Ch 21. The Boss

After a memorable cab ride, Jesus Josephovich headed into a fancy restaurant where he was supposed to meet Volodomir and his boss for dinner. Volodomir was waiting for him by the door, and to Jesus Josephovich’s surprise, there was an attractive middle-aged woman standing next to him in a modern two-piece pants suit.

“Jesus Josephovich,” Volodomir greeted his friend with a handshake and a hug. “This is my boss, Irina Alexandrovna.”

They shook hands politely and entered the restaurant. Jesus Josephovich thought it was quite interesting that Volodomir’s boss was a woman. He imagined that it would be very nice to have a calm, patient female superior.

As they sat down at the table, Jesus Josephovich’s ideal vision of a motherly manager was quickly shattered when Irina Alexandrovna began shouting out orders to the hostess who, as she so tactfully expressed, had seated them at the worst table in the house. He suddenly understood why she was the boss of the company.

“How can we enjoy our meal here?” she ridiculed. “Find us a good table.”

The terrified hostess ran off and handed them off to another waiter, a young woman who patiently sat them down at a private table in the corner of the restaurant.

“The service at these places is always intolerable,” Irina stated spitefully, and loud enough that the waitress could hear her. “They hire these ignorant children who haven’t even finished their university courses yet. They should be working at McDonald’s, not a four star restaurant.”

Volodomir tried to smile, but said nothing. Jesus Josephovich watched the severe businesswoman as she sat down and glanced at the menu. Before he even had time to pick his menu up, Irina had already placed her menu back on the table and declared that she would order for all of them.

“I know the best things to order,” she assured them. “If you order something else, you’ll probably be disappointed. The chef here isn’t very creative. Few Ukrainian chefs are.”

Volodomir put his menu back on the table, but Jesus Josephovich continued flipping through it just to see what was there. He wasn’t sure what Irina was complaining about. All of the food looked good to him.

“So Volodomir has told me a lot about you,” Irina said straightforwardly, when she saw that the foreigner hadn’t put the menu down yet. “How long are you going to be in Ukraine?”

“As long as it takes,” Jesus Josephovich answered. “What is Chicken Kiev?” he asked, perusing the dinner specials.

“You don’t want that,” Irina said firmly. “So you’re here in Kiev indefinitely? Would you consider staying forever?”

“Forever is a long time,” Jesus Josephovich said, as if he had experienced it before. “But I’m actually planning on going home when I finish my work here.”

“Unless we change your mind,” she said, fully confident that she could change his mind at a moments notice if she wanted to. “What do you think of Kiev so far?”

“I’m enjoying it,” Jesus Josephovich said. “The people are great and so is the food.” He held up the menu with a smile.

Irina sat up tall in her seat and shook her head. “People here are stupid,” she said. “Stupid and petty and corrupt.”

Volodomir was embarrassed and cleared his throat, shuffling the menu in his hands. Jesus Josephovich continued to study the uptight businesswoman.

The waitress returned and Irina quickly ordered for all three of them, including drinks and appetizers, in a voice that sounded like it was commanding an army. After giving her orders, she returned to her former line of thinking.

“Yes, the people in Ukraine are stupid,” she continued. “These people don’t know how the real world works. They steal from each other like ignorant children, and they think that the government is going to solve all of their problems. They are lazy fools,” Irina said callously.

“You might be judging them a little bit harshly,” Volodomir argued.

“I judge them no harder than I judge myself,” she declared. “If I did the things that I see my countrymen doing every day, I would be ashamed of myself as well.”

Volodomir stifled a grin. He found it hard to believe that Irina Alexandrovna had ever felt ashamed of herself for anything. He tried to change the subject. “How was your time with Andrey Bogdanovich?” he asked Jesus Josephovich.

“Very interesting,” Jesus Josephovich said. “Religion never ceases to amaze me.”

After more general conversation about the day and Irina’s pessimistic perspective on the general state of the country, the waitress delivered their food and left their table as quickly as possible before the businesswoman could complain about anything else.

At the end of the meal, however, as the waitress was clearing their plates off the table, Irina began commenting to her about everything that could have been better. The food wasn’t hot enough, the vegetables didn’t taste fresh, the meat was overcooked, and the soup didn’t have enough flavor.

“And what’s the matter with you?” Irina Alexandrovna questioned the discouraged waitress. “You look so depressed that I can’t enjoy my food. You could at least pretend to be happy to serve the people who pay your salary.”

The waitress’ eyes began to water and Volodomir quickly asked for the check to give her an excuse to leave. The waitress stomped away bitterly.

“Was that necessary?” Volodomir asked.

“Of course it was,” Irina answered. “If no one tells them the truth, then they’ll never improve.”

“The truth,” Jesus Josephovich echoed. “It is so rare to find these days.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Irina said. “What we need are more people who are willing to speak their minds.”

“What we need is God’s perspective,” Jesus Josephovich said.

Irina nodded her head vigorously, assuming that God’s perspective agreed precisely with her own. “You know, people have made such a mess of things, sometimes I think that it would be better if God just destroyed them all and started over.”

Jesus Josephovich looked into her eyes. “Do you know how God judges?”

“With fire and suffering,” she said passionately. “That’s how God will judge this degenerate world. And rightfully so.”

“God doesn’t judge people the way you think he does,” Jesus Josephovich stated.

“Then how does he judge us?” she asked. “According to what rules?”

“God does not want to judge us like the courts judge us, showing us where we have broken the law. He is not a lawyer,” Jesus said.

“I’ve heard there aren’t many lawyers in heaven,” Volodomir joked.

“There are some,” Jesus Josephovich joked. “But they usually work pro bono.”

“Then how will he judge me?” Irina asked, interested to see if the foreigner’s answer would match her own feelings on the matter.

Jesus Josephovich sat back in his chair and silently stared at her.

“How will he judge me?” she repeated.

Suddenly a familiar voice echoed in Irina’s mind. “That was a stupid question,” the voice said. “You already asked it.”

Irina was shocked. She looked around, but no one was there.

“And sit up straight,” the voice said. “You look like a country peasant.”

Irina was angry now. She looked everywhere for the source of the voice, even under the table, but there was no one to be found. Volodomir looked at her like she was crazy. The voice continued speaking, saying rude, judgmental things, and she was about to scream for silence when she recognized whose voice it was.

The voice made a comment about work, and Irina realized that she was hearing her own voice and her own comments that she had made about others. But these comments were aimed back at her, and each time she heard the voice, she remembered a time in the past when she had been guilty of such a fault.

The voice took her through her childhood, when she had selfishly hidden her friend’s toys, and through puberty, when she had lied to her parents. It took her through University when she had cheated on an exam, and through her early working years when she had ignored her friends and family so she could succeed at work. It took her through all the times she had insulted someone else, or made a jealous comment about another woman, and her mind showed her when she had been guilty of the exact same faults of which she had accused others.

Then the voice began talking about today. It made a comment about everything she had done, the way she looked, the way she walked, the way she spoke; all the comments that she had made about other people were now being made about her. Finally her words to the waitress came back to her, and she saw her own melancholy face in the mirror as the voice spoke: “You could at least pretend to be happy.”

Irina broke into tears and cried like a little girl. Everyone in the restaurant was stunned into silence. Volodomir looked at Jesus Josephovich with wide eyes, but didn’t dare say a thing. Jesus simply reached out and tenderly touched Irina’s hands.

The waitress came over with the check and asked if everything was okay. Irina grabbed her hands and knelt on the floor with tears streaming down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m so sorry. I’m sure you’ve had a long day and you’ve had to deal with terrible people like me and you have a tiring job and nobody is grateful for what you do and I didn’t mean to say those things to you. I’m so sorry.”

The waitress began to cry too. She forgave Irina and the two women held one another in each other’s arms and wept softly as the patrons looked on in shock.

After the spectacle was over, the trio paid for their meal and left the restaurant in a dream-like state. As Irina walked outside, she felt as if her soul had been washed clean. She was drying her tears with the edges of her sleeves when she stopped suddenly and ran back inside the restaurant as if the place had been on fire.

“What happened?” Volodomir shouted inexplicably.

Irina replied without looking back. “We forgot to leave a tip.”

Also available in the Parables section.  Click here to READ MORE…

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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in E-Book, Parables, Where Jesus is

 

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Chapter 20 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

where jesus is chapter 20

Ch 20. The Taxi Driver

As Jesus Josephovich and Andrey Bogdanovich were leaving the building, the Texas Preacher handed them each a book that he had written and said that he would be very pleased if they would read it. The preacher’s name was in larger letters than the title of the book and there was a huge picture of him on the back side showing off his big American smile and his gold rings. The book was called “Giving to God”.

As they walked out to the street, Jesus commented on the title. “I wonder if they understand what God really wants,” Jesus Josephovich said.

“From his sermon, it sounds like God wants all of our money,” Andrey replied.

“God doesn’t want our money. He doesn’t need our money,” Jesus Josephovich explained. “He wants us to give it to each other. To help each other. Not to build buildings or hold rock concerts. He wants us to learn how to love.”

“Maybe they don’t know what that means.” Andrey looked at his watch. “It’s time for you to meet Volodomir,” he said. “I’ll call you a taxi.”

Andrey went to the main street and hailed a cab. He explained where the driver was to take Jesus Josephovich and then handed his friend money for the trip.

They shook hands as Jesus Josephovich climbed into the taxi.

“Thank you for what you have shown me today,” Andrey said earnestly. “I will not forget it.”

“The only way not to forget it,” Jesus Josephovich replied, “is to do it.”

Jesus got into the taxi, closed the door, and waved goodbye to his new friend. The car started up with a jerk as the engine revved and the taxi driver pulled out into the busy street.

“Hello,” Jesus Josephovich said politely to the driver.

The driver looked in his mirror and half-smiled out of amusement. He mumbled something to himself about foreigners under his breath, and continued driving.

The taxi was an old, dirty, discolored blue Volga with patchwork seats and yellow-stained windows. The air was so thick with smoke that Jesus Josephovich could barely breathe, but when he tried to roll down the window, he found that it was broken. The driver was blasting tasteless pop music from the radio and smoking a cigarette with one hand while driving haphazardly with the other. He seemed not to notice that he was driving much faster than anyone else on the road, and those who were driving slower or trying to obey the traffic rules he swore at abusively.

Jesus Josephovich was quite amazed by his driving style. It seemed to perfectly match his temperament. He swerved in and out of traffic, slipped through extremely tight places between cars, ran through red lights when they weren’t convenient, and honked at pedestrians who dared to cross the street in front of him.

There was a lot of traffic at this time of day, so the driver was employing special maneuvers to get them where they needed to go as fast as possible. There was a long line of cars at a red light, but rather than wait in the line, the driver drove on the wrong side of the road around the line and stopped his car in front of all the other cars. Before the light turned green, he sped off down the narrow avenue.

Jesus Josephovich was pleasantly surprised that nobody honked. Apparently the other drivers knew that the “Taxi” sign on the roof of the car gave it special privileges to break the law.

On another busy street, they ran into a long line of traffic that was barely moving. The taxi driver cursed and looked around for an exit. He tried to drive his car backwards down the street towards where they had come, but he was soon blocked in by more cars.

With nowhere else to go, the driver pulled his car onto the sidewalk. The sound of scraping metal vibrated through the old Volga as it climbed up the curb. The driver sped down the sidewalk as far as he could go, occasionally slowing down for old women and children who moved out of his way, and when he ran out of room on the sidewalk, he simply pulled back into the line of traffic. Again, no one honked or complained. Jesus Josephovich was astounded.

“Is it okay to drive on the sidewalk?” he asked.

The driver shrugged his shoulders. “There are too many cars in Kiev,” he said. “You have to do what you have to do. If you sit in that traffic, you won’t go anywhere.”

“Are there rules for driving here?” Jesus Josephovich wondered.

The taxi driver laughed. “Of course. But nobody follows them.”

“Don’t you have to get a license or permission to drive?” Jesus Josephovich asked.

“Nah,” the driver said with a wave of his hand. “You don’t have to take the test. I bought my license for a hundred dollars.” He looked in the mirror and smiled mischievously at his foreigner passenger.

The car lurched forward and then stopped inches from the next car. The traffic was moving very slowly. Jesus Josephovich leaned closer to the driver.

“It is a great responsibility that you have,” Jesus Josephovich remarked. “You take people where they need to go, and while they are with you, their lives are in your hands.”

The driver stared uncertainly at the foreigner in the mirror. He wasn’t sure if his passenger was mocking him or not. “What do you think about Kiev?” the driver asked, changing the subject.

Jesus Josephovich looked out the window at the river of cars. “It’s a beautiful city with beautiful people,” he said. “But like many places these days, it’s so busy that sometimes people forget what is most important in their lives.”

“And what is that?” the driver asked.

“Love,” Jesus Josephovich answered.

“Ah,” the driver said, misinterpreting his words. “What do you think about our Ukrainian women? They are beautiful, yes?”

Jesus Josephovich wasn’t sure how to answer the question. He honestly hadn’t noticed if they were beautiful or not. To him all women were beautiful because of what was inside of them. What they looked like outwardly was meaningless.

“They are as full of love as any place I have visited,” he answered.

The taxi driver raised an eyebrow as he glanced at him in the mirror. “You have a Ukrainian girlfriend? Maybe two?”

“I have many friends,” Jesus Josephovich replied innocently.

The driver suddenly became very interested, thinking that the foreigner must be quite the lady’s man. “You must be a rich businessman,” he said.

Jesus shook his head. “No, I’m not a businessman. Just a teacher.”

“How do you get so many girls to sleep with you?” the driver asked.

Jesus Josephovich suddenly realized what the driver was talking about. “I don’t sleep with them,” he said in shock. “I would never sleep with a woman.”

The driver almost crashed the car. He swerved to the left and then regained control. He stared at Jesus Josephovich in the mirror. “Are you gay?” he asked nervously.

Jesus Josephovich made a confused face, as if he wasn’t sure what that meant. “No,” he answered. “I just love women too much to ever sleep with them.”

The driver put his arms up in the air expressively. “If you love a woman, I don’t think it’s wrong to have sex with her.”

Jesus Josephovich looked at the driver as if the man were a confused child. “Love is not sex. The purpose of love is to be like God. The purpose of sex is to have children.”

“Only if you’re not careful,” the driver joked.

“Do you have children?” Jesus asked.

“No,” the driver said.

“A wife?”

The driver shook his head. “A girlfriend. But it’s not serious. She probably thinks it is, but I’m not interested in getting married.”

“Why not?” Jesus Josephovich questioned.

“It’s too much work to raise a family, and I don’t have enough money to buy an apartment. Besides, I don’t really love her in that way.”

“What is the purpose of your life then?” Jesus Josephovich wondered. “If you’re not looking for real love, then what are you looking for?”

The man paused and the car slowed down. “I don’t know. I don’t think about those things.”

“Don’t you want to be happy?” Jesus Josephovich asked.

“Yeah. It’s not that I don’t want those things. I just don’t think I can be that kind of person,” he confessed.

“Can you love?” Jesus Josephovich asked.

“I think so,” he replied.

“If I gave you a briefcase with a million dollars in it, would you be willing to do anything for that briefcase?”

“Sure,” the man said.

“And what if you had something even more valuable? Would you do anything to protect it?”

“Yeah,” the driver said. “I think so.”

“Then you’re already that kind of person.”

They reached the destination and Jesus Josephovich paid the driver for the ride. As he was about to leave he handed the driver the book that the Texas Preacher had given him.

“Here,” Jesus said. “Read this.”

“What is it?” the taxi driver asked.

“I don’t know,” Jesus Josephovich admitted. “But it’s better than nothing.”

“Like love?” the driver asked.

“No,” Jesus said. “Real love is better than anything.”

Also available in the Parables section.  Click here to READ MORE…

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in E-Book, Parables, Where Jesus is

 

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Chapter 19 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

where jesus is chapter 19

Ch 19. Contribution

Jesus Josephovich and Andrey Bogdanovich were standing in the hallway of the large meeting hall where the Texas Preacher had just finished his inspiring lesson, during which he had asked for money and donations at least 4 different times.

They were standing by a table of books which had all been written by the Texas Preacher himself. The crowd was quickly dispersing. Now that the spectacle with the giant movie screen and the rock band was over, there didn’t seem to be any reason for the churchgoers to hang around.

Jesus Josephovich couldn’t take anymore. He climbed up onto the table of books and stood tall in the center of it. Some children started pointing and laughing and the woman who was selling the books yelled at him to get down. A crowd began to gather.

“Excuse me,” he said to the crowd. “I noticed that your gathering is quite large and I saw from all the money you gave that you all have a great desire to help other people.”

The crowd grew larger and more people walking out of the main hall noticed the strange foreigner standing on the book table. Andrey was embarrassed and hid himself at the side of the crowd, hoping that no one would ask him about what his companion was doing.

“But can you tell me the name of one person who was helped by today’s service?” Jesus Josephovich asked.

The crowd was uncomfortably silent.

Jesus Josephovich looked at a woman standing near him. “Excuse me, ma’am. Are you poor?”

The woman was stunned. She put her hands up in the air and shook her head.

“Who is poor in this church?” Jesus Josephovich asked.

The crowd was confused. No one knew.

“Who has desperate needs here?” he continued.

The people looked around and whispered to each other, but no one could think of anyone poor in their congregation. They had never thought about it before.

“Surely you must know,” Jesus Josephovich said. “How can you give money to God, yet ignore the needs of your own family? If you claim to follow Christ, then these people are your brothers and sisters, and you should know what their needs are.”

The crowd began discussing this and seemed to be in general agreement.

Jesus Josephovich decided to get more specific. “Are there any mothers in distress? Any widows or orphans?”

An old woman ambled out of the crowd, pushed forward by her granddaughter. She was very old and hunchbacked and she could barely walk even with the assistance of a cane. She shyly stood in the center of the crowd.

“My grandmother is a widow,” the woman’s granddaughter said. “She has trouble walking and she needs help with the most basic things like cooking and cleaning. I help her when I can, but sometimes I have to work and I’m not able to help her for several days.”

Jesus Josephovich stepped off the table of books and took the grandmother’s hand, holding it compassionately in his.

“Who will help this woman?” Jesus Josephovich asked.

A few young men and women stepped forward.

“We can clean,” said a teenage girl who was standing with her sister.

“And we can cook,” said a young mother with her arm around her little daughter.

“I can help her fix things in her apartment,” said a young man.

Jesus Josephovich smiled from ear to ear. “Look how simple it is,” he declared joyously. “It doesn’t have to cost a cent to help another person. You throw your money into organizations that claim to help others, because you are afraid of taking the responsibility to help them yourselves. But no amount of money will give you the same satisfaction as scrubbing this kind widow’s floor.”

The crowd giggled and people whispered amongst themselves at the foreigner’s impassioned speech.

“My brother is sick,” said a middle-aged woman. “He has lung cancer and he can’t work. He can’t take care of his family now. They have no money. His wife has to work three jobs to keep them alive.”

Jesus walked over and put his arm around the woman. “Who will help this woman’s family?” he asked. “Who will bring them food? Who will give them a place to stay?”

A middle-aged woman with several children stepped forward. “I know your brother. We live close to him,” she said to the woman. “I can cook them dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

“I have an apartment that I rent,” said an older man who stepped forward in the crowd. “I can rent it to them for cheap if they need it.”

Jesus Josephovich was getting more and more excited about the crowd’s enthusiasm to help. He was about to find another needy person when the Texas Preacher walked up to him. He had been watching what was happening and wanted to get things back under his control.

The hefty preacher walked up to Jesus Josephovich and stuck his fat hand in his face. Apparently he wanted the rabble-rouser to shake it. Jesus obliged him. Then he gave the preacher a hug. The preacher laughed awkwardly.

“This is great,” the preacher said with his typical charismatic showmanship. “Get the people more involved. I love it. This is just what our church needs. We can organize a group and a schedule for these activities and get everyone helping out.” His big smile and instant enthusiasm were almost enough to make the crowd believe that it had been his idea to do all of this in the first place.

“Don’t organize it,” Jesus Josephovich warned.

“What do you mean, don’t organize it?” the preacher asked with an ironic chuckle.

Jesus Josephovich turned to the woman whose brother was sick. “What is more meaningful to you: when your husband brings you flowers on your birthday, or when he brings you flowers for no reason at all, except that he loves you?”

“Of course, when it’s for no reason at all. It shows that his love is sincere,” she answered.

Jesus Josephovich nodded and looked at the preacher. “The moment you organize it, the service becomes necessary. The moment it becomes necessary to serve another person, the act of service loses its meaning.”

“But if we don’t organize everything, then someone who needs help might not get it,” the preacher insisted.

Jesus Josephovich looked at the man who had offered his apartment for rent. “Do you have everything that you need all the time?” he asked.

“No,” the man answered.

“And are you still alive?”

“Yes,” he replied with a laugh.

“There will always be needs,” Jesus Josephovich said to the crowd with a grin. “The purpose of cleaning that elderly woman’s apartment is not to remove the dirt from her floor, but to remove the grime from your heart.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” the preacher said, still trying to stay in control. “We’ll make a list of needs then, and whoever can help will help.”

“That would be better,” Jesus Josephovich agreed. He turned and spoke to the crowd. “The point is to serve and love each other, and to learn from these experiences. You can help others every day, and you should, but it must be out of love. Otherwise you gain nothing from it, and they learn nothing from it.”

“That’s right!” declared the preacher. “Give from your hearts,” he said. “If God tells you to help an old woman, you help her. And if God tells you to give all your money to his church, you give him everything you’ve got.”

“And I’m sure that with all that money that you received today you’ll be able to fund all of these new projects and take care of all the people in your congregation,” Jesus Josephovich said to the preacher.

The preacher laughed nervously. “Right, well, you know we have a lot of bills to pay, and rent and salaries and the band and my book tour…”

The people in the crowd stared disapprovingly at the preacher.

“But we’ll see what we can do,” the Texas preacher acknowledged as he jovially slapped Jesus Josephovich on the back.

“I wouldn’t want you to feel compelled to help them out of guilt,” Jesus clarified.

“No, no,” the preacher defended himself. “I would love to give as much as the church can. I just want to make sure that we don’t serve ourselves to death,” he said with a nervous laugh.

Jesus Josephovich smiled. “To serve another by compulsion and without love is the lowest occupation on earth, but to serve another out of love alone is the highest.”

“You know, you’re good with words,” the preacher complimented as he picked up a few of his books which had fallen on the floor and placed them back on the table. “Maybe you’d like to preach here. Do a lesson or two. Speak to my church more about this community project idea you have.”

“No thanks,” Jesus Josephovich said to the preacher. “That’s not necessary. If they want to know more, they can buy my book.” He picked up a Bible off the book table and tossed it at the preacher. “You might want to review it as well.”

Also available in the Parables section.  Click here to READ MORE…

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in E-Book, Parables, Where Jesus is

 

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Chapter 18 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

where jesus is chapter 18

Ch 18. The Texas Preacher

Jesus Josephovich answered the cell phone that was ringing next to his heart in his coat pocket. It was Volodomir inviting him to dinner with his boss. Jesus Josephovich agreed to meet with them and Andrey Bogdanovich helped him arrange the time and place to meet with Volodomir.

“We still have some time,” Andrey said looking at his watch as Jesus Josephovich hung up the phone. “I am interested to hear what you will say about another kind of church that is very popular here in Kiev.”

“Another church like this?” Jesus Josephovich asked, referring to the Michailevski Cathedral.

“No,” Andrey said. “Very different. This church doesn’t have a building. Not like that one.”

“Interesting,” Jesus Josephovich said. “Maybe it will be more like the churches in the First Century.”

Andrey grinned doubtfully at Jesus Josephovich’s optimism. “It’s a modern church actually,” Andrey clarified. “I think they have an evening service today. We can watch the service and then go and meet with Volodomir.”

“Alright,” Jesus Josephovich agreed.

They made their way to a large conference hall where a crowd of people was gathered for the service. The lively spectacle was quite different from the quiet solemnity of the orthodox cathedral. There were no headscarves or traditional clothes, no icons or candles for prayer, no altars or hymn books for worship. The only object of interest in the hall was a giant screen above the preacher’s podium that flashed the name of the church every few seconds in different stylized fonts. Everyone was dressed in modern clothes and business suits, young girls wore revealing clothing that would have shocked the icon seller at the cathedral, and the general atmosphere of this religious event was similar to that of going to the cinema with friends.

They sat down near the front in a row reserved for guests and Jesus Josephovich was pleasantly surprised that people were chatting freely and seemed to be in good spirits. He overheard a few conversations: A couple of married women were talking about their children’s school and sports activities, two men in suits were discussing the economy, and a group of older men and women were complaining about politics and the weather. Jesus Josephovich was a bit perplexed that he never heard anyone mention God.

Suddenly the lights dimmed, ingratiatingly airy music blared, and the giant screen behind the podium filled with the image of a bright star floating towards a giant spinning globe.

Jesus Josephovich leaned over to Andrey and tapped him on the shoulder. “Are we going to watch a movie?” he asked.

“I think it’s just the introduction,” Andrey explained.

After the video, which flashed several scriptures across the screen and bright, colorful pictures to show how those scriptures were being fulfilled by this particular group of people, the lights came on and the preacher suddenly appeared on the podium like a magician performing in Las Vegas.

The preacher was a large, fat, boisterous man with thinning hair combed around a shiny bald spot that looked like it had been tanned by the stage lights. He wore an expensive suit with a golden cross hanging from the lapel, and he had thick gold rings on almost all of his pudgy fingers. He was very charismatic and when he spoke in his friendly Texas accent he jumped around and waved his arms in all directions. The man’s movements were so dramatic that Jesus Josephovich almost expected a dove to fly out of his sleeves or a rabbit to jump out of his hat.

The flamboyant Texas preacher started his lesson in English with an Old Testament scripture about money. Next to him was a frail-looking Ukrainian translator in an equally expensive suit who was trying as hard as he could to imitate the Texan’s boisterous style, but it was clear that he was not nearly as passionate about what the preacher was saying as the preacher was.

“God gives to us every day,” the preacher announced.

People in the audience shouted: “Yes he does!”

“But God expects us to give back to him.”

“That’s right!” the crowd retorted.

“Because if you don’t give back to God, he won’t give back to you,” the preacher declared passionately.

“Amen!” someone shouted.

“God wants to give to you,” the preacher promised. “He wants to give you everything you’ve ever wanted! Cars, houses, a good job, nice clothes, a big screen television.”

The crowd laughed and cheered giddily. They were all thinking about the “blessings” that they would like to receive from God.

“But you’ve got to give to God first!” he declared. “And you’ve got to give generously.”

A few more people shouted their agreement.

“Because God isn’t going to give you something for nothing,” the preacher rationalized. “He’s not just going to give you a million dollars until he knows that he can trust you with it.”

The audience agreed vocally. They were thinking about how great it would be if God would trust them with a million dollars, and there was not a single soul in the auditorium who doubted that they were in fact trustworthy enough for such a noble responsibility.

After twenty minutes of passionate discourse on money, ushers began passing around beautiful purple and gold baskets in which the patrons began depositing whatever bills they had in their pockets.

Jesus Josephovich noted their generosity with pleasure. “People here are very charitable. Is that money being collected for the poor?”

“I don’t think so,” said Andrey. “I think it goes to the church.”

“What does that mean?” Jesus Josephovich wondered.

“It means that it goes wherever he wants it to go.” Andrey glanced at the preacher’s sparkling jewelry.

After the money was collected, a rock band came on stage behind the preacher’s podium and began playing upbeat soft rock music about God and Jesus.

Jesus Josephovich was shocked. “First a movie, and now a rock concert.”

“Welcome to modern Christianity,” Andrey said.

“What does this have to do with loving God and helping other people?” Jesus Josephovich asked.

“Maybe they believe that if you entertain people enough, they will be willing to do something altruistic every once in a while,” Andrey suggested.

After the brief concert, the preacher came back on stage. This time his face was sad and his eyes were looking up to heaven as if he were in dire need.

“Church,” he said emphatically. “We need some help. We want to send every child in this auditorium to summer camp. This summer camp is going to change their lives forever. You know, if you send your kids to this camp, you may never see them again,” he joked. “Because they are going to come back from this summer camp like new creations, like little prophets and preachers ready to take the Gospel into all the world.”

The crowd laughed and hollered their approval.

“But,” the preacher continued, “to do that we need some help. We don’t have enough money to sponsor all the children, so if God is whispering in your heart right now, and if he’s telling you that he wants you to help a little child know God better, then please open your pocket books and give whatever your heart tells you to give.”

The crowd cheered, and after a few more minutes of somber pleading, the golden baskets were passed around once again. Apparently people still had something left in their pockets to donate.

The service continued and a few songs were sung, which Jesus Josephovich thought were quite lovely, a few announcements were made, and another video was shown. Then, after everything was finished, the Texas preacher came onto the stage one more time. This time he was serious. He had the Bible ready in his hand.

But he didn’t open the Bible. Instead he began to talk about how great it would be if their congregation had a building. He talked about how many parties they could throw, how many concerts they could hold, and how many souls could be saved, if only they had a building of their own.

The baskets were passed around one final time and if anyone had anything left in their pockets it was hesitantly placed into the open mouth of the regal container.

Finally the service was over, but before they could leave, the Texas preacher stood on the stage and reminded everyone to buy a book from the church’s book table outside to help them grow spiritually.

Jesus Josephovich walked outside to the table filled with books and was amazed to see that every book was written by the same person: the Texas preacher himself.

“It’s strange,” Jesus Josephovich commented. “They said a lot of things and collected a lot of money, but I didn’t see a single person who was helped by any of it.”

Andrey noticed a fire in the foreigner’s eyes. Jesus looked like he was about to overturn the tables. “What are you going to do?” Andrey wondered.

“I’m going to actually help someone.”

Also available in the Parables section.  Click here to READ MORE…

 
Comments Off on Chapter 18 of Jesus Josephovich: The Revolution

Posted by on July 19, 2013 in E-Book, Parables, Where Jesus is

 

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