Once upon a time there was a wealthy and generous businessman. He had a wife and a small son. Since his wealth enabled him to pursue personal interests, he put his mind to improving the lot of those less fortunate. In his research he found a tribe of cannibals in the Amazon jungle that was suffering in a stone-age culture. He decided to go and see if he could help them.
He moved his family to the area, made contact, learned the language, and slowly moved into the outskirts of the village. Things seemed to work well for a time and he thought perhaps he might be able to teach these people about farming, medicine, and other beneficial practices. But the tribe never really accepted him or his family and one night they surrounded his hut, attacked and slaughtered his wife and son in front of him. Miraculously he escaped to his riverboat and was able to return to civilization.
Against all odds and still wracked with grief, the generous man re-provisioned himself and within a few weeks sought to re-enter the tribe. He talked to the leaders who were so surprised at his return that they didn’t kill him. Again he set up camp on the outskirts of the village and began to seek relationship with the people. They all pushed him away, threatening his life. So he decided to chose one particular family and make it his mission to care for them in a special way. He did this through gifts, which were at first refused. But as time passed the family was wooed toward him by his gracious deeds and gradually they completely turned around in their attitude toward him. Though they were not able to convince any other villagers, they themselves began a loving and close relationship with the man. He taught them a new way of life and gave them the benefit of his wealth, his position, and his name. They even moved into the man’s hut, which was expanded to accommodate them. In addition the man promised to bring his new family to his own land and country, where there would be a wonderful place for them to live according to the new things they had learned from him.
The tribe continued in their stone-age behaviors, all the while looking with suspicion and hatred on the man and even extending that hatred now to the family he had befriended. Though the doors remained open to any who would enter a personal relationship with the man, none did. And he did not pursue them.
As the day drew near for the man and his adopted family to return to his country a very volatile situation arose. Angry village residents, men, women and children, surrounded his hut. They intended to kill him and his new family. As the tension rose, the philanthropist stepped out the front door and demanded an explanation from the tribal council for their threats and impending attack.
The tribal leaders angrily responded by charging the man with being unfair to the rest of the tribe by not taking them with him and blessing them in the same way as the family who had turned around. The leaders were so incensed by this unfairness that they had decided to kill everybody in the man’s hut and burn it to the ground.
- If you were the philanthropist, how do you think you would respond to the charge of being unfair?
- Did the philanthropist owe the tribe anything before he went there?
- Did he owe them anything after they killed his family?
- Who among the cannibals did the man not treat fairly?
- Did anybody in the tribe not get what they really wanted?
- What are the most amazing things in the story?
- Not that he did not initiate a relationship with all of them, but that he initiated one with any of them!
- Not that the man went in the first place, but that he want back! That he didn’t just wash his hands of the tribe completely, reject them all.
- Should we deny to God the sovereignty over his mercy that we ourselves would insist upon if we were the philanthropist in this story?
- If I were among these cannibals offered a pardon and a new destiny in Grace, how would I respond?
Just a Thought,