Thomas was an entry-level executive at a huge company. He had an office on the first floor. His company owned a huge building with 525 floors. The president had an office and lounge and apartment on the top floor. Every new executive was indoctrinated into the ways of the company. The number one goal of every executive was upward mobility. As incentive, the company told all the executives that some day, if they met their production quotas, they would have their own office and apartment on the top floor. (Apparently the top floor was bigger on the inside than it looked on the outside.) If they failed to reach the top floor in the allotted time, assuming normal promotion cycles, they were entitled to a promotion upgrade and acceleration package. This was a presidential decree. There was much confusion about how and when this “Grace” package could and should be applied. Middle management debated the issue endlessly.
Thomas was a hard worker. He wanted to please his bosses. He went to every training opportunity and leadership seminar. He took night classes to learn company policies and procedures. He had reminders all over his office about various rules and ethics. He had impeccable character when it came to following company guidelines. Thomas was a good employee.
Discipline was a huge part of Thomas’s company growth program. If an employee was found taking extra breaks they would be reprimanded and held in contempt until they made restitution by official apologies and a proportional forfeiture of pay. Employees were encouraged to keep an eye out for any infractions of other employees since the company’s reputation was at considerable risk. Seniors were to enforce strict policy guidance over juniors. Juniors were to remain subservient and receptive to correction and tutelage.
Overall the company was a cordial place to work. If everyone kept in line and followed company rules and avoided asking controversial questions then everyone was treated fairly and kindly. Thomas would say that his company was a pleasant place to work as long as you didn’t rock the boat. Fixing his eye on the goal of the top floor gave him purpose and motivation to overcome any interruptions in routine or difficult impedance to progress in promotion.
One day Thomas was working at his desk and a man walked in. Thomas looked up from his work and noticed this regular looking individual looking at him. Thomas discovered this gentlemen was Josh and he was the janitor. It was not normal to see a janitor in the office spaces during working hours. Thomas was a little concerned about the obvious infraction in company fraternization policies but still Josh was nice enough and was curiously intriguing. In their conversations over the next few weeks Thomas grew to like Josh very much. He looked forward to his “illegal” visits. Thomas rarely had trash in his office or any other condition that required janitorial service but still Josh would just drop by for a talk.
One day Josh made a claim that startled Thomas. He said “Thomas I am the president of this company.” Thomas didn’t know what to think. He thought at first that Josh was a little crazy. Josh did however know everything about the company. Josh told Thomas that the guy on the top floor was also himself. Josh apparently had some kind of magic ability to be it two places at the same time. This was hard for Thomas to understand but there was something very exciting about Josh so he just decided to stop trying to figure it out.
Thomas asked Josh about many things. He asked him why he served as a janitor. Josh said it was so Thomas could get to know him. He said he also liked to help Thomas and the other executives in ways they wouldn’t help themselves. He said his heart was to see the people successful. His original plan was for no building or floors or production quotas that lead to promotions. He wanted to build a company where all the people worked together. He had some ground rules regarding relationships between employees but his intent was for a family of employees more like children and a father than workers and a boss. Way before Thomas was hired the previous employees had built this building, instituted policies and created hierarchies. Josh said that he always wanted to be with the people not apart on the top floor.
Josh told Thomas that his new plan was to abolish the company, the building, the policies, the rules…all of it would go away. Thomas was disturbed by this revelation. He wondered what would be his purpose if it wasn’t trying to be upwardly mobile all the way to the top floor? It was like Josh was reading his mind. He told Thomas that the top floor is not the goal. Thomas was really perplexed now. Again Josh could see the fear creeping in for Thomas. Josh told him that his plan all along was to build a family. He wanted to build a community not a building.
At first Thomas was unsure but he had grown to love this Josh-president-janitor. He couldn’t imagine a life without him. He felt safe and secure with him. He trusted that Josh had a great plan for the future. He looked forward to many days with Josh as they moved out of a building and into an adventure. He wondered how many would come with them. What would happen to the building? Would the people want to leave a pursuit of the top floor for the person who inhabited the top floor?
So Thomas took the challenge and went with Josh. He gave up a pursuit for promotion and instead chose a life-long relationship with Josh. Thomas realized that the top floor wasn’t his purpose in life but instead he was meant to be with Josh.
I hope you can see very clearly the purpose of this little story. Jesus came to abolish religion. He fulfilled the law in himself. He fulfills the law in us. He is love and his perfect love in us is the purpose He intended from the beginning. Fallen humans made religion. Fallen humans want religion. Fallen humans want a building and a “top floor.” Jesus wants us. He reveals the Father and brings us into a relationship with the Father. We were always intended for this relationship not a religion. Jesus is the end of religion and the beginning of relationship. We don’t need religion anymore. We aren’t trying to get to the top floor to meet the president. He came to us as a janitor to reveal the president.