Once a man thought to go to church and have a look around. He was not a true worshiper, but simply thought that joining the church would advance his business prospects in that community. There were many people who assembled there, and membership would surely be good for business.
He was met at the door by the minister, who welcomed him warmly. When told that he wanted to join the church, he quickly learned that the first step was that he had to die and be buried.
“That’s just a metaphor, right?” the man asked.
“After a fashion,” said the minister. “You could call it a metaphor, I suppose.”
“I am not sure about that,” said the man. “I just want to enter your company, not die.”
“But our company is defined as those who have died. I am afraid that death is unavoidable,” said the minister. “Either you die, and then enter. Or you enter, and then die because of the sacrilege.”
“But if I enter in both instances, and die in both, what is the difference between them?”
The minister said gravely, “If you die before you enter, then you are raised to life again. If you enter without dying, then you must die alone. And everyone who dies alone cannot be raised to new life.”
“Dying seems like a big price to pay just because I want to sell insurance.”
“It most certainly is,” said the minister.
“Can I think about it?” said the man.
“I insist on it,” said the minister.
“The resurrection you talked about. Is that a metaphor too?”
“After a fashion–just like the death. But it would be more accurate to describe what we think of as death and rising as metaphors for this. This is the ultimate reality. This is the new creation.”