The Walled City
While clearing some old files recently, I came across this story scratched on notepaper, written for a homiletics class many years ago. I couldn't help noting how relevant it still seems, as well as honestly a little convicting.
King Ego has built an impressive city. Its sturdy walls are high and thick – a fortress of unassailable strength. Its shining avenues and pristine halls look comfortable and inviting, but no visitors are welcome here. This city is the king’s alone.
He enters through private gates -- the Gates of Withdrawal and makes his way down Insecurity Way, a dark and narrow street with tall walls of its own on either side that block out the midday sun, making the road gloomy and cool.
The king finds an escape from this gloomy road by entering The First Bank of Self-Interest, where the interest rates are always high. This is where he keeps his most cherished possession; his Unyielding Will -- protected by the thick doors and walls of a massive vault that remain impregnable.
Satisfied that his Will cannot be breached, he departs the bank onto Myown Way for a short walk to the Museum of Self-Righteousness. This beautiful structure is filled with scores of old and fading artifacts that recall past acts of goodness. He smiles as he admires the sparse exhibits throughout his Hall of Self-Congratulation, making a point of recognizing how much better his Hall is compared with any other.
Feeling energized, he leaves the museum to climb Works Boulevard, a broad and steep avenue with many steps where he is sure to be seen by those outside the city walls. It leads up to the city’s highest point – the Tower of Pride. Despite the brightest sun or the beams of a million floodlights, its cool stone doesn’t glisten – it drinks in the light but cannot reflect it.
From there, he travels down Vanity Lane until he reaches the most beautiful and meticulously cared-for structure of all, his cherished Temple of Egoism. Here he has erected all his most revered idols, such as the golden Idol of Money, the jeweled Idol of Pleasure, the soft Idol of Comfort, the bittersweet Idol of Self-Pity, and many others.
He spends hours here in worship, indulging in self-centered pastimes that turn hours into days and days into years, locked away from his family and friends.
Outside the city walls, would-be visitors are kept at bay by a battery of sophisticated defenses that fire automatically against any threats, requiring almost no effort on his part. Shields of self-justification block the slightest criticism, while poison arrows of mockery or accusation wound and destroy indiscriminately. His greatest weapon is the chalice of victimhood, by which he is able to turn what is right into wrong, making wrong into right. This powerful weapon overwhelms any it is turned against, even giving license to hatred and greed while allowing him to hide behind his veil of false virtue.
King Ego’s walled city is unassailable. As the years go by, its walls grow stronger, and its towers and temples rise higher. Yet, with all its strength, the king fails to recognize that his city has become his prison.
Friends who once approached his walls, only to be wounded or turned away, have long since abandoned the effort. All except for one friend. A lone stranger still knocks every day, gently offering the king his freedom.
If only King Ego realized that this friend offers far more than freedom; He offers life itself. Yet a day is coming soon when even that stranger will cease to knock. In place of His offer of friendship, there will be a summons to judgment.
On that day, all the walls will fall.
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