Chapter Twelve: The Weight Of Consequence
"I object!" rang out, an angry cry which stopped everyone for a moment.
I looked at the Senator, and cocked my head. "On what grounds?" I asked.
"Free will." claimed the Senator. "That one made a binding choice a long time ago. Who are you, to try to change what was put in place eons ago?"
"Free will." I returned. "He, Whose Will set all Creation in motion, is able to place His favor where He pleases.
"If Man may be redeemed, who has chosen so badly, why not anyone else on whom He chooses His Grace?
"Besides, I’m the guy with the gavel here. Objection over-ruled." I tapped the gavel, and a small chime rang, as if in acknowledgement of my decision.
The Senator made a face. I found a bottle of laxatives and tossed them at her.
"OK, next case. How ‘bout you?" I asked a foul-looking fellow.
"Sure, if I don’t have to pay for my history, I’m game." he said.
"Uhh, no." I answered. "It doesn’t work like that. You aren’t making a deal here or trying to skate.
"If you hold evil in your heart, it will destroy you. Only by turning your very heart and soul, can you find the hope I offer here."
"Yeah, yeah. So, I ‘promise’ I’ll be good. Cool?" said the demon, as he started to walk away.
"I’m afraid not." I said, and slapped the gavel down. Everyone froze.
"You’re not fooling anybody" I said. "You even still have the same demonic form.
"Besides, you don’t realize what you’re promising, here. Even the best-intentioned people wrestle with doing the right thing every time, all the time. In fact, it’s simply not possible by human strength alone. We all need help, and that means a relationship with God."
"Sooooo," sneered the Senator, rising again to her feet, "You let off the ones you want to let off, and you explain it by saying it’s because God plays favorites.
"And we’re supposed to just sit here and agree?"
"That’s not correct" I said. "First off, the ones I speak to will face a greater judgment, and it’s their heart that will make the choice, not my decision.
"Also, God provides hope for anyone who will have it. Don’t forget, you brought up Free Will, and that means no one is going to be dragged in Heaven, no one gets forced to choose the life of following the King in His work and will."
"But those who deny God get punished for it!" protested the Senator.
"Actually, what happens is that every choice has a consequence, and the judgment here just resolves some of the outstanding issues." I replied. "That’s part of why it’s so important for everyone in the Dock to be honest about their position.
"It’s not hurting anyone but themselves," I said, "to try to get around their condition here."
"Hmpf" said the Senator, and she dropped into her seat. Abruptly, everyone could move again, and the demon who had been trying to leave collapsed, and as he slowly climbed back to his feet, he gave me an angry look.
"OK, let’s try that again" I suggested. "I know you demons have foul names assigned to you, but here decorum is enforced. What name would you choose for this session?"
The demon smiled in a way that told me trouble was coming, and he opened his mouth as if to speak.
Then he started gagging. I knew what had happened right away.
"I warned you decorum would be enforced here" I said sternly. "Now swallow what you were going to say, and try a name suitable for this place."
The demon scowled at me. "John Doe" he finally said.
"Well, John" I said, "This is a unique sort of court. It’s not a court of human judgment, where errors about guilt may be expected to some degree, or where it is necessary to grant benefits because of doubt about what has been.
"This court stands, because all in the dock are guilty -"
"I object!" thundered the Senator, again.
"All are guilty" I asserted, "and the matter here is the condition of your heart and person. You can accept the course your deeds have set, with its attendant consequences, or you can ask for an alternative."
"Surrender or die" muttered the Senator. Mikki laughed at that.
"You know," she said to the room at large, "At first I didn’t know why the Senator was offended by our proceedings here. But I understand now, that those whose souls are not resolved, fear the unknown.
"Everything will be all right," she assured the Senator, "you don’t need to be afraid."
"Yeeeeaaaargh!!" yelled the Senator, and she lunged at Mikki. I slapped my gavel down hard, and again, everyone froze again.
I tapped the gavel again, and everyone relaxed.
"You see John?" I grabbed the chance to make a point. "It’s scary to have to face up to judgment, but we all have to do it sooner or later."
I was glad to see some of the people there nod their heads, but others stubbornly dissented. I saw the course, then.
"OK, everyone who has had their judgment with God, sit down." I said. Everyone in white sat down. The rest looked at me.
"All right, now for the rest of you." I said "It’s my place to judge you, but I’m really here to help you choose your course.
"You have two options, bascially. You can choose to go on as you have always done. For you here, that’s pretty grim, really. Every evil has its cost, and if you choose to stay evil, that cost is only going to get heavier and more painful, but it’s your choice.
"If you want to, you all have a chance to repent and turn back to God. I know how hard that sounds, but some here will have wanted such a chance, like Chuck did, and for them, that chance is here. That chance is now. But that chance is also up to you. I won’t pretend it’s easy, or even simple, especially when you have to decide ‘yes’ or ‘no’ right now, but it’s your choice and responsibility."
"So, I’m going to do this in stages. If you have already decided to reject this offer, just walk over to the dark side and join the others waiting for their resolution.
"If you choose to hear more, just sit down."
About a third of the group assembled who had been standing, walked over to the dark group in chains, and sat with them. The Senator glared at me, then silently left her post to join the dark group. I looked at Mikki, who shrugged.
"OK, everyone left, it’s time to take a moment and think about what you’ve done with the time and abilities given to you. Basically, if you had the chance to change things, would you? Humans always have things they wish they’d done different, but it’s hard for anyone to realize that it’s their character and being which chose their actions. I think the same thing applies for you here, also."
One of the guys (I noticed the group looked rather less fiendish than the group which had chosen to cross to the dark and the lost) spoke up:
"Look, to be straight with you, we’re all aware of the evil we’ve done. And we’re aware, more than most people, what that means in consequence.
"So, it’s fair to say that some of us might be interested in the offer because, well, we don’t want to get punished. From what you said, though, it’s not going to work out that way, so..."
"So you want to know if there really is hope for you, or whether this is a trick, say, because some of you played just such deceitful tricks on people yourselves?" I suggested.
"What’s your name, sir?" I asked. "That is, what will you be called for here?"
"I’ll go by Howard" he answered.
"Fine, Howard" I said. "Do you want to know the worst four-letter word out there, but one which a lot of people cling to?"
Howard didn’t answer.
"It’s the word ‘fair’." I continued. "If I told a hundred people about a situation, then asked what they thought was fair, it would be rare indeed if two of them agreed.
"So, when we’re talking about a judgment of a person’s being, well, no matter who makes the call or what is said, not very many people are going to call it ‘fair’. In human life, that’s just part of the world, but when it’s time to judge a person’s eternal resolution, it’s frankly beyond any mortal power to provide a just decision.
"The trouble most people have with God’s justice is, they are unwilling to accept His verdict either. In their hearts, they know He is perfectly just, the only being so, and He is also merciful well beyond human comprehension. In fact, some resent that God would be just when no human is truly so, and they cannot bring themselves to accept mercy from one who is Omnipotent.
"That’s part of why I am here now. You, like me, will have to face God and stand judgment, but there is an intermediary, God Himself and yet one of us. For you who are not human, it may be beyond your sufferance to face the Christ, so I am here because of that consideration. I am not your judge, yet I will be directed when necessary. The Lord is Omniscient, and that includes knowing what is needed here.
“With all this said, the question here and now is; how have you chosen?”
Howard looked very uncomfortable at that question, and said nothing for a while. I noticed, however, that as he considered the question, his horns receded and his claws became normal hands and feet for a man.
“Look at yourself, Howard” I suggested. As he did, I explained:
“As you know, God the Father made Man in His own image. When you who fell changed your visage and appearance, it was in defiance of God. So, when it’s all said and done, your decision is plain on its face, as well as your own.”
I saw a number of faces in the crowd start to melt at that, as they realized the matter before them. Some did not, however, becoming more angry and defiant, though they remained silent. Then one of them strode forward angrily.
“Look here”, he began. “There’s no way I’m bowing down to the likes of you” he declared.
“Fine” I answered, “That was never necessary, anyway.”
“You know what I mean” said the demon, “Just because God decides to take on the form of a human, you all get this idea you’re better than us.
“Well, you can send me to hell, but I’m not giving in!”
“That’s your choice” I agreed. “Go join the others, then, if you reject Mercy.” About a third of the remaining group slowly walked over to the group in chains. They stood there waiting.
“Maybe I’m just wasting my breath” I said to the whole audience, “but it needs saying, what it means to be in Heaven or Hell.
“If you choose hell, I can’t stop you. And if you think you can choose Heaven but stay selfish and mean, that will undo you also.
“But God did not make His creations out of a desire to see them hurt or destroyed. You have free will, yes, but you also have a chance for reconciliation, all of you, even now.
“You who have chosen to hate, believe that God uses His power as you would, but in truth, He has always chosen service over privilege, devotion over the ego.
“He did not become a Man, that men should become haughty, but to save men, to reach those who otherwise could not be found.
“The road either way has its hardship. To the one side, you have your will, but forsake the blessings of God. I do not know when that door will shut, but shut it will. To the other side, you must begin again, no matter what you had before, and it will be difficult, to do good in everything and all, but you have strength and direction and support at your call, without limit.
“Choose now!” I commanded, and everyone found themselves in one group or the other, the courtroom now empty except for me, Mikki, and Jesus, who clapped me on the back.
The walls closed quickly, with just time to hear Nick laughing and exclaim “I’m clean! I’m clean!” before the cave returned to its former condition.
“Not bad, Daniel” said Mikki, “Not bad at all”
“I agree” said Jesus. “You’re starting to get the feel for this.”
“OK” I nodded. “Now what?”
“Well, “ said Jesus, “Time for another mission, but in a different venue, I think.”
The cave in hell vanished, replaced by a green valley, of a place I did not recognize. Mikki smiled, as if she recognized it.
“You two aren’t married anymore,” said Jesus, “but I think you’ll work well together on this one.”
“What about Arf?” I asked.
“She’s a bit too exuberant for this place, Dan.” He said.
“I’ve sent her on another mission, and this way you won’t get sidetracked quite so much.
“By now, I think you’re beginning to understand your place and the way of things.”
“I think so, “ I agreed. “But will I see Heaven, I mean, the real Kingdom?”
“In time.” promised Jesus. “But for now, I want you to get more used to doing My work, OK? You’ll see Talese and the others later, and you’ll see many places I have made ready for you, but for here and now, walk where I send you and say what I instruct, please.”
“Thy will be done” I agreed.
“That’s the idea” said Jesus, and He left us, Mikki and me, to walk on to the next place and purpose.