Two men lived as neighbors for several years. Every Saturday they mowed their lawns, trimmed their bushes, and washed their cars. On Mondays, they kissed their wives goodbye, drove their kids to school, and promptly reported to work on time.
One day a horrible hurricane swept across their city and destroyed the town. The men repaired their homes, replanted their bushes, and reseeded their lawns. A soft rain sprinkled both men as they continued to restore their homes to the original state.
However, when they completed their work, the first neighbor knelt on his lawn and thanked God. The second homeowner gawked at him and snapped a selfie with his redesigned landscape.
Summer came, and both men donned their shorts and flip-flops and went to work on their homes. The first man was grateful for the shade of his trees. The second neighbor forgot the trees and cursed the heat.
Each man lived similar lives to old age. They enjoyed the same elements, celebrated laughter and love, raised children, and succeeded in business.
Years later, the neighbors died of natural causes and faced the gates of heaven. The first man took a deep breath and boldly approached the gate. As he continued forward, the gates unlatched and gently swung open allowing him entrance.
The second man watched and proceeded in the same manner as his neighbor had. However, he did not hear the sound of the gates unlocking, and sparks of electricity sprinkled his skin. The man rubbed his face and arms and then stepped back.
Confused, he hoisted his pants up and marched forward again. When he grabbed the gate, a sudden jolt of electricity lifted him and shot him out to the path.
Anger swelled in the man’s heart. This time he tried a back way but found no entrance. Looking around the man located a large stone and rolled it to the front gate. He discovered a smaller rock and set it next to the first. He continued until he had created a platform.
He sought a felled tree and snatched a long flexible branch laying in the dirt. With a sudden burst of energy, the man ran towards the rocks, thrust his branch on the stones, and tried to jump over the gate. With a loud and painful thud, the man met an invisible wall and slid down to the ground.
“What is going on?” he yelled. “You allowed the other guy entrance, why not me?” Beads of sweat fell from the man’s face.
He paced the grounds and removed his shirt. The heat of the area became uncomfortable. He needed some water. Furious the man yelled at the top of his lungs, “Does anyone hear me?”
He waited. “Didn’t my neighbor and I live the same lives? We were both decent people! I did everything he did, and you won’t let me in?”
Rain fell on the man causing him to remember the day he and his neighbor restored their homes from the hurricane. He recalled the foolishness of the man kneeling and praying.
The wind picked up and brushed his hair on his face. It reminded him of his neighbor ushering his wife to the car and driving to church with their children. “What a waste of time,” he thought.
The wind ceased and the heat returned. The man’s memory resumed to the time the next door neighbor invited him to a Bible Study in his backyard under the shade. He grumbled.
In an instance, a woman appeared on the pathway and walked towards the gate. The sound of the gate unlocking and the gentle opening of the entrance surprised the man.
“Wait,” he pleaded. “Tell me, why does the gate open for you and not for me?”
The woman looked at him with pity.
“You see, my neighbor just went through the gate, but the fence does not allow me to enter. It’s unfair! He and I lived the same lives!” he protested.
“You have had the good fortune of receiving the gift of common grace. Not only do you reject Jesus Christ’s work on the cross, but you also failed to realize that God has provided the necessities of your life,” she said.
“Yes, the same rain that falls on the just also falls on the unjust. But the same sun that hardens the clay melts the wax!”
The man balled up his fists and yelled, “What are you talking about?”
“You have resisted God your entire life. However, he allowed you to enjoy all the blessings the world has to offer. Moreover, he allowed his Son to die on your behalf. You received much from God, but you refuse to see it, and credit yourself for all the blessings you’ve enjoyed in life.” The woman turned to enter the gate.
“Wait, okay, okay, I accept the blessings, and whatever Jesus did for me. Can I come in now?”
“I’m sorry it is too late for you.” The woman saddened and entered the gate.
“Wait! Hold on!” the man continued to yell.
Before the gates closed, the man felt the cool breeze from the trees near the entrance, and a gentle midst of refreshing rain.
The sweltering heat met him as the doors closed. The man fell to the ground and cried in agony.
Common grace is not so ordinary in that it exposes the heart of God towards his enemies.
“The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:8-9 (NASB)