A 10 yr old boy was baptized on Sunday. The pastor said, “do you believe that Jesus is Lord, and that he died for the remission of your sins?” The boy, under the hot lights nodded. Poor guy. I doubt he’s ever been told what a lord is- except that Jesus is it. And the word ‘remission’- I don’t even think I know exactly what it means.
What would be a modern day metaphor to help us understand these words?
A couple years ago I began working for a company that provides a product. The product is a self-help book and tape seminar called “Zoey”. The president of the company, Mr. Lord is an elusive man of incomparable business genius. He drops into meetings briefly, puts in his two cents, and it changes the whole direction of the discussion. His name is all over the business journals, somehow sprinkled into every section. he seems to have his fingers in all industries and has a mysteriously large social network. but no one can put a finger on exactly where he is at a certain time. And about the time they put a label on him as entrepreneur, or CEO, or psychologist, he breaks the mold with some new statement or innovation. And even if you google the guy- you’ll never find a picture of him.
Part of the success of his company (300 million in sales and 4.5 million employees worldwide in just 10 years) is that he cares very much for his employees. He believes in his product so much that he requires each of his employees to study and apply his techniques because it will make them happy and strong and productive. Basically the Zoey seminars teach people to do what is right, to help others, and to send constant emails or texts to Mr. Lord’s personal inbox. Nobody knows how he has set up the system to answer each message, whether with an automated computer program or if he outsources it to India, but he somehow gives what seems to be a personal answer to each message. Sometimes he mobilizes others in the company to help you accomplish what you asked for in the message. I’ve heard that sometimes he just drops by and sets the thing in your lap, winks and leaves.
I was the manager of the record keeping department. This involved managing the security of tons of personal information. One day two years ago I was working late. It was dark and everybody had left hours before. I came upon a computer folder under Mr. Lord’s personal profile. I saw that it was restricted to only Mr. Lord himself but I was almost certain I knew which password he would have used. The title of the folder was:
I knew I shouldn’t do it, but i thought, who would ever know. I opened it and saw. I suddenly knew what it was that made Mr. Lord and his business so great. And i was suddenly ashamed I had betrayed his trust.
But now it was too late. I might as well use the secret to earn my millions. The next day i called in sick. I spent the whole morning thinking about it and by lunch time I had made up my mind. I called both of the main newspapers in town and told them that I had found the secret to Mr. Lord’s success. Immediately I became as big as Mr. Lord. Everybody wanted to know me.
But it quickly turned sour. The newspapers scoured my past and brought up all my junk, trying to prove (i figured) that I didn’t deserve to hold the secret. I was summoned to court by all sorts of other companies on any possible charge that could be brought against me. they thought they could sue or convict the secret out of me. They unburied everything from that one time i used company money to get a slightly pornographic movie on my hotel TV, to when I broke the speed limit driving the company vehicle. they sued me for every newspaper or penny I had picked off the ground and they dug up the smallest hints of racism and sexual harassment from when I was a kid! If i knew this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have…
they really just wanted me because of my secret. They knew it was their key to power and money.
I was held in protective custody in a small cell with a sink and a toilet and a bed, but even the guards to my cell wanted to get it from me. It was hell.
Then a new bit of news broke. There was a man who claimed that he was Mr. Lord’s son and he said that it was actually his fault that Mr. Lord’s folder had been breached. But not only that, he said he would take any punishment that was coming my way, because he didn’t want me to leave his father’s company over this. Even after the terrible thing that I had done to his father, he still wanted me as an employee!
But the most ironic thing of all was that John Lord Jr. was my very own administrative assistant, my paper pusher!- a nerdy little guy that usually smelled kind of grubby! I had no idea he was related to Mr. Lord! but he had the birth certs to prove it!
He agreed to go to court and he quickly pleaded guilty for my crime along with every other crime that had surfaced that anybody in the whole company had committed! He said he had known about them all and that it was his fault that he had never let his father know!
They worked the system and sued him and his father’s company for all that it was worth… and they brought it down.
I, however, was set free.
One day I was walking and thinking. i found myself in the neighborhood of the old Zoey enterprises. There were a few lights on. I walked in and to my surprise many of the people still were at their desks working. The company had filed bankruptcy, because of me, and because of all the other ridiculously minute crimes each person always commits in any company. but these people were still working, and they seemed happy! They were not rushed. They were not arguing. But all seemed to have the same goal in mind. what was that goal?
I sat down at my old desk and turned on my computer. I turned around while i waited for it. I looked down the hall and listened to the voices. What did they know, that made them sound so… so content?
I clicked on Outlook and pulled up my email. I had a few emails from the company HR announcing the bankruptcy and some of the procedures. Then a new email came in with its little jingle.
It was from Mr. Lord. I opened it and it said. “ross, come into my office, please.”
I replied back with shaking fingers. “Yes, sir. Right away. I’m sorry, Mr. Lord but I do not think I know where is your office?”
“All of this is my office. i am in sitting in the cubicle next to you.”
I felt like i should take off my shoes or drop to my knees. I do not deserve to be in his building. I must beg this man for forgiveness and pray that he will not take out his anger on me. He could turn everyone in this whole city against me. This man controls my 401K. he knows what i did, he could get me arrested. He could get security to drag me out of the building. Maybe i should just get up and leave before he can get his hands on me.
I slowly stood up. My heart was pounding. I had never been so afraid of seeing someone before.
I turned towards the voice. a man in the cubicle next to me stood up and slowly folded his arms and rested them on the cubicle wall. he was a balding man with glasses. Thin. He had a smile on his face.
“Mr. Lord!” I gasped. somehow i knew it was him. I was shaking and instantly sweating.
“Would you like to continue working for me?”
“What?!” He looked serious. “Well, i don’t think i could, Mr. Lord.” I stood up and started to plead my defense. but I stopped. He wasn’t here to scold me. “The truth is, Mr. Lord. I haven’t even finished watching the tapes and i really just skimmed the books. I don’t do the right thing, as you know. I only usually help the people that will help me back. I can’t remember the last email i sent to you-“
“That’s ok, Ross. Would you like to try again?”
“But… aren’t you mad at me? I ruined your whole company!”
“No you didn’t ruin it. Look, people are still here. You, of all people should know that this company couldn’t die. Don’t you remember the secret of Zoey?”
I hadn’t thought about the actual secret since this all had started. I just had thought about the fate that the secret would give me. Now I thought back to it. It was a simple line. and now it made sense. I recited, “My company is in the business of making its employees prosper.”
“Yep,” Mr. Lord said. “And it’s because i just like you guys so damn much.”
“But what about your son? He’s in jail.”
“He’ll still inherit my company when he gets out. He asked me to invite you back. He must like you.” Mr. Lord winked. “Anyways, jail is where he wants to be right now. He’s just like me. He’s always looking for new employees. He’s pitching the Zoey plan to the people in jail. He likes people as much as I do.” Mr. Lord lifted his arms off of the cubicle wall and looked down the hall and then back to me. He said, “Ok, so you’re welcome to stay if you’d like. I can’t really pay you, but my true employees aren’t doing it for the money. they just know that if they work for me, I’ll do what I know will make them wise and mature and happy.” Mr. Lord winked and totally intruded on my personal bubble by giving me a huge bear hug. His whiskers brushed against my cheek and he squeezed hard as if I were his son or something. He turned to leave and the last thing he said was, “Don’t forget about your email. I’d like to hear from you a lot more.”
So, a lord is kind of like a boss, holding your fate in his hands. My lord is my CEO. He is big and important, a lot smarter than me. He wants the best for me. And he likes to hear from me, a lot.
As for remission of sins? I still don’t know what that means but I think it has something to do with a nerdy little guy that quietly moves around my office, asking if he can help. He catches my mistakes, pats me on the back when I'm down, and covers for me in the 11th hour when i need it most. I would rather have no other person at my side all day long, even if he’s been in jail and smells kind of grubby.