Once upon a time there lived a guy named Peter who had a guardian angel named Phil. Phil had been a photographer on earth before he entered the Spiritual World. He wondered if he could guide Peter’s life based on the things he learned from heaven through photography.
One day when Peter was at home, Phil decided to make himself visible.
“Who are you? How did you get in the house?” exclaimed Peter, quite surprised by this unexpected visit.
“I am your Guardian angel,” said Phil. “I do not have to come in through the door.”
“Why are you here?” asked Peter suspiciously.
“I am here to help you reach the gates of heaven,” said Phil. “But based on what I have learned in heaven I would like to try a new approach.”
“What new approach?” responded Peter.
“I would like to record various daily events in your life with photographs and put them into an album,” explained Phil. “I have made a special camera designed for such a purpose.”
“Sure,” said Peter. “Having an angel create a photo album of my life sounds intriguing. Just be discreet about it.”
“Don’t worry. No one else will be able to see me or the snapshots but you.”
So the next day Phil took a picture of Peter giving his wife some flowers. A couple days later, Peter and his wife got into an argument. As Peter turned away in anger he saw that Phil had taken a picture of him arguing. Over time Phil took pictures of him at work being helpful to his fellow employees, unhelpful to fellow competitors in his office, contributing money to charities through his paycheck and filching office supplies. Peter even noticed Phil taking pictures of him when he was both a courteous driver in his car and when he had short bouts of road rage.
On one particular Sunday morning when Peter’s wife decided to stay home with their sick young daughter he decided to attend church services alone.
During the minister’s sermon Peter heard a deeper explanation of the Lord’s answer in the New Testament to questions concerning His “return.” Jesus had much to tell his disciples about His Second Coming but warned them they “could not bear these things now.” The minister said that these words by the Lord had a spiritual meaning and that most people would not be able to handle this deeper information. Somehow, it was also tacitly understood by the minister and members of this congregation, that they had the “inside track” to this new sacred info.
After the Sunday service was over Peter grabbed a cup of coffee and sat at one of the tables they used for “Fellowship Hour,” where the congregation would mingle and cultivate their relationships and spiritual community.
Peter noticed friendly conversation and smiles among the members of his congregation but no one seemed to be carrying on a spiritual conversation. Everyone was talking about important but worldly concerns, whether about their job situation or showing pictures of their grandchildren.
Suddenly Peter noticed his guardian angel coming toward him with something under his arm. Phil sat down next to Peter and handed him a photo album of the pictures he had taken over the last month. As Peter turned the pages he noticed that a “good” picture was always placed next to its opposite or “bad” picture.
Peter eventually had to close shut the photo album because he could no longer bear to look at these different “snapshots” of his life. It was then that Peter noticed that the title on the cover of this photo album read “Inner Contradictions.”
“Now you have a taste of what the Lord meant concerning the Second Coming and that people could not bear these things now,” said the guardian angel looking directly into Peter’s eyes.
“But the minister’s sermon today said that this biblical passage referred to further enlightenment by the Lord,” replied Peter in a state of confusion.
“Look pal, I have personal and direct experience from Heaven that this biblical passage represents something more intimate and personal—that this new information or dispensation from the Lord is meant to shine a light on the things going on within you. If you were actively being regenerated by the Lord you would be paying attention to your inner inconsistencies. That is why I created this photo album—so you could not deceive yourself. This is the “enlightenment” that the Lord spoke of and that is necessary for His spiritual return and housecleaning. Your church and minister should be preparing people to endure such an “inner encounter” with their inner lives, instead of offering comfort and helping people inoculate themselves from their inner flaws,” said Phil with great seriousness.
“Hey, we all have bad days,” responded Peter.
“When you die,” said Phil, “you will take this photo album with you—unless you use it for making appropriate changes in your life—now!”
At that point a member of the congregation, noticing that Peter looked disturbed, came over to sit by him and see if he could offer some help. “What is the matter?’ asked the fellow worshipper.
“I need to spend more time looking for dirt in my life and taking part in spiritual regeneration,” said Peter. Recoiling, the fellow member says. “Stop being over-paranoid and too self-critical. Look at the bright side of things. We’re here to rejoice in the Lord!”
“See,” said the guardian angel (who only Peter could see and hear), “the ecclesiastical culture of your church is helping blind you to your cosmic spiritual duties. Pep talks and hugs do not provide you with the necessary, and often disturbing, material for securing the welfare of your soul.”
“But isn’t it a minister’s job to lead people to the truth so that they can acquire goodness?’ asked Peter.
“You can’t acquire goodness by allowing your flaws to share the same living quarters,” answered Phil. “Just look at the absurd things in this photo album that you are allowing to cohabit together!”
Peter’s response is “But if a church minister took this approach that you are now suggesting, he would chase away most of the members of the church, who come here every Sunday looking for comfort, support, hope and to be told that God has them covered.”
“That’s probably true,” replied Phil, “but that is exactly what is stalling the New Jerusalem from descending to the earth out of heaven.”
“Who are you talking to?” questioned Peter’s fellow parishioner.
Instead of replying to the parishioner’s question, Peter got up, wide-eyed, and quickly headed for the door!