Once there was a young boy named John. He lived a very nice life with his family. He had a big, big family, and his father and mother took very good care of them all.
His father’s name was Jesse Goodman. His name was famous around that part of the countryside on account of his big family. For his sons and daughters loved him very much and wanted him to be honored by their lives.
John’s family was very close. They did everything together, unlike other families who all went their separate ways. Because of their family unity they were able to accomplish a lot of things: they built their new barn in just a few days, and they cultivated a fallow piece of ground quickly because they all worked together.
Soon, everyone began to hear about Jesse Goodman. It happened because the lives of his children reflected the kind of man he was.
One day, young John went on a walk down the country lane near his father’s land. There he saw a man coming down the road in a bright, shiny carriage. John had never seen such a flashy-looking carriage. He could see that it had some writing on it and he strained his eyes to see the words as the carriage neared him. He was greatly surprised when he read the words. It said in big red letters, “I am proud to be a part of the family of Jesse Goodman!”
“What does he mean by that? ... Why, I have never seen this man before.” John didn’t know what to think.
As the carriage drew near, John saw the man driving it more clearly. Yes, now he was sure. He had never seen this man before. He was dressed in brightly-colored clothes, was much too fat, and had a big golden ring on his finger. John’s family never wore things like that. It wasn’t because they couldn’t wear them if they wanted to. But it was because they had better things to do with their money than to waste it on costly garments and fancy carriages.
As the man drove past John, he looked down from his carriage with a broad grin and waved a proud greeting, intending to continue on his merry way. But John called up to him, “Wait. Please sir, wait. I need to speak with you.”
The man slowed his carriage and climbed down to talk with John. “Yes, sonny, what do you want?” he asked with a half-smile.
Suddenly a feeling came over John that he had never experienced before. He began to feel very SMALL and unimportant as he stood there before this big man. He got a little bit choked up in his throat as he tried to reply. He could barely get his first words out of his mouth. “What is this feeling?” John wondered to himself. “Why do I feel so low before this man?”
John forced his words through his lips, overcoming his sudden impulse to run and hide from the presence of this big man. “Sir, I noticed the words written on your carriage ... and a fine-looking carriage it is, sir,” John stuttered a little as he spoke.
“Oh yes, it certainly is a nice carriage,” the man boasted. “My father gave it to me, you know.”
“Your father?” John asked.
“Yes, my father is Jesse Goodman, like the sign says. You have heard of him I am sure ... why everyone has heard of him.” He continued on without giving John a chance to answer, “He is a great father. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, you know. So, he just sold a few of his cattle and bought me this lovely carriage. He is like that, you know. Why, he gives and gives. All I have to do is ask. Yep, that’s my dad, Jesse Goodman.”
“But, but, I am a son of Jesse Goodman myself.” John blurted out as this proud man paused a second to take a breath.
“That is good to hear ... Why, that makes us BROTHERS.” He impulsively stuck out his big hand to shake John’s.
John withdrew a little bit, not giving him his hand. “But, but, that couldn’t be. How could you be my brother when you are never at our house? When we all get together to work, you are never there ...”
“Why, I’m a traveling man, sonny,” the big man interrupted. “I can’t stay in one place long. I’ve got business to do. And I am always spreading the good word about Jesse Goodman wherever my work leads me.”
John, becoming bolder now, broke in on the proud man’s reply, “How can you call yourself a son of Jesse Goodman? How can you say you are my brother? The brothers of my family are together.”
“Wait just a minute, sonny,” the big man said gruffly, acting suddenly very offended. “Are you saying you don’t accept me as your brother?”
John had not meant to hurt this man in any way. He was only trying to get him to see the obvious: if he was never with Jesse Goodman’s family, he couldn’t be his son. “Sir, it is not that you aren’t welcome in our family, for SURELY you are. In fact, many have come and joined our family. We would love to have you come and be with us ... so, come, please come.” John waved his hand in the direction he was going. “Yes, and we have lots to do today. You can join us. We are cleaning our big field ALL TOGETHER. Come!”
The big flashy man hesitated at John’s invitation, and then said abruptly, “Oh, thanks ... thanks anyway for your kindness. But, I must be on my way. I’ve got places to go and people to see. That’s my calling, you know. But I will try to stop by someday.” He jumped quickly back up on his carriage. “I’ve got to be about my father’s business,” he called down to John.
“Well, that is not Jesse Goodman’s business you are talking about. You must be talking about some other father, because today HIS family is cleaning the big field,” he called back to the man with conviction.
“Don’t judge me, brother,” he called back to John as he pulled away in his shiny carriage leaving John in the dust ...
“That was strange, very strange. Who was that man, really? And what does this mean?” thought John as he turned and headed toward the big field.
Somehow little John felt very sad as he glanced back down the road. He saw only the dust left by the flashy carriage that had gone away so quickly. “Oh, what does this mean?”
See also Demystifying the Body of Christ