One day, as God was taking inventory of the number of human souls that had died and were now currently inhabiting the two spiritual kingdoms of heaven and hell, He became somewhat alarmed. He had sent new secret information down to earth awhile back and those humans who had valued this special information seemed to still need to undergo a painful process of spiritual purging before they were allowed to enter the gates of heaven.
God had sent his new dispensation to humans so that much of this inner suffering could be accomplished on earth, and therefore, would not be necessary after they left their physical bodies. So He called on one of His most capable angels to go to that planet and determine where the problems lay.
So Andy descended to the earthly plane and arrived just in time to hear a church minister give a sermon on the similarity of gardening with spiritual growth. This particular church had special access to the new information that God wanted to ultimately reveal to the entire human race.
Andy sat in the church, disguised as a human member of the congregation, listening to how the minister powerfully used this new divine information to distill higher meanings out of the biblical story of the Garden of Eden and the Lord’s “parable of the sower.”
The essence of this new knowledge from God was that the literal and mundane narratives of Holy Scripture contained higher levels of meaning and analogies that conveyed important spiritual secrets about the dynamics of Faith.
As the minister spoke about God’s teachings being like seeds that are implanted in the soil of a person’s soul, the angel was able to observe the inner quality of all those seated and listening in the pews. Andy suddenly realized that most of the members of the church were skipping an important first step in creating a beautiful garden and heavenly ecosystem for their souls. Instead, they were making self-delusional assumptions.
Andy waited for the end of the church service before sharing his findings with the minister.
He approached the minister, saying “This is my first visit to your lovely church, but I have been reading your wonderful doctrines about the analogy of gardening principles and spiritual transformation for some time now. As you probably know, your teachings break down this gardening analogy into three distinct stages. First, there is soil preparation. Second, there is growth and harvest. Finally, there is the celebration and happiness of sharing this bounty with others.”
Andy looked directly into the minister’s eyes and said, “ I think you and your congregation are bypassing the important first step of true spiritual regeneration which is analogous to soil preparation.”
The minister, who had a kind heart, looked quizzically at the stranger and said, “how would you know such a deep and private thing to be true?”
“It is a simple mistake that people make concerning the matters of love,” answered the angel, while keeping his true identity secret. “When people come to church they want a spiritual community based on friendship, comfort and affirmation of self-worth in that they are doing something constructive for society.”
“What is wrong with that?” asked the confused minister.
“You have been trained to look at the positive side of people and encourage them to follow God’s teachings of love and charity. But this teaching represents the second step of spiritual growth, that is, the implanting of the Lord God’s doctrinal seeds within your worshipper’s hearts. So unfortunately, this skips over the first real step of spiritual gardening, which is analogous to soil preparation. Soil preparation has nothing to do with promoting a parishioner’s self-image or esteem or being nice; it is concerned with a person’s suffering the unflattering discovery of—and combat against—various character flaws. Without such a repentant step, one’s spiritual soil will not allow God’s teaching to take root. This spiritual type of soil preparation leads to an innocence of the heart and the growth of a new spiritual will within the human psyche. Trust me, this purging isn’t happening.”
The minister recoiled at Andy’s words, then realized that despite all his religious study and spiritual knowledge, he could not save his own marriage. He was still very much a flawed man.
“But if I emphasize that my church members should aggressively dig up their own personal dirt instead of being neighborly, they will be turned off and go elsewhere,” said the panicked minister.
“That means many of your fellow members do not grasp the true nature and challenge of their worldly predicament. Worship is hollow without spiritual regeneration and that requires sincere self-struggle. You must attempt to form a separate group of serious individuals who want more than observing rituals every Sunday, and instead, seek to support each other in making painful self-discoveries,” stated the angel in a stern voice. “Otherwise they will face this suffering and purging in the next world before entering heaven or perhaps even face something much, much worse! The fact that nothing spiritually new has happened in this church for many years now is a true sign of inertia and a dying organization. Only through your members’ own “self-confrontation” can new things happen, take root, grow, flower, and bear spiritual fruit. Within this final spiritual fruit, or third stage of rebirth, new seed is created from sincere kindness and innocent love. I will return again to help you set up such a special group of individuals in your church. Now I must return to Him who sent me with my report.”
To the minister’s surprise Andy completely disappeared from sight. “Poof!”