The scene is the lobby of Mark 16:16 Airlines. A worker stands behind the counter, smiling, waiting to assist someone. A man approaches.
Worker: Good morning! Welcome to Mark 16:16 Airlines. How can I be of assistance?
Customer: Yes, hello. I would like a ticket, please.
Worker: I would be glad to assist you. Would you like a ticket to heaven or to hell? We are proud to offer both.
Customer: Hmmm. I think I would definitely prefer heaven.
Worker: That’s an excellent choice. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know why you would choose the other. But in any case, here is your ticket.
The worker hands a green ticket to the customer. It has the word FAITH inscribed in big, bold letters.
Customer: Thank you very much. And what is the price for the ticket?
Worker: Oh, there is no charge to you today. The price has already been paid in full.
Customer: Really? That’s amazing! So now I get to go to heaven.
Worker: Absolutely. Just walk down the corridor to your right — the one labeled “Baptism.” Then you will be allowed to board the plane, and you will be on your way.
Customer: OK. Now, I have a question. How would I go about getting to hell?
The worker looks confused.
Worker: Well, I’m not sure why you would ask a question like that. Are you trying to go to hell?
Customer: Absolutely not. I want to go to heaven.
Worker: OK then. Just take your ticket down the corridor to your right, and you’re good to go.
Customer: But just for the sake of argument. What would I do to go to hell?
Worker: I never will understand why people always ask me this. He sighs. Well, to go to hell, you take one of these red tickets with NO FAITH written on it. Then you can walk down the corridor on your left. Or for that matter, you can stay right where you are. The rest of it will be taken care of for you.
Customer: I’m a bit confused. You told me that I get to heaven by taking a green ticket and walking down the corridor to the right.
Worker: That’s right.
Customer: But when I was asking about going to hell, you didn’t tell me to avoid walking down that corridor.
Worker: Now I’m confused. Are you asking why I didn’t bother telling you to avoid the corridor to heaven when you are trying to go to hell?
Customer: Well, it seems like you are being inconsistent. To get to heaven, I have to take the one ticket and walk down the corridor. But to get to hell, I only have to take the other ticket.
Worker: I’m sorry, sir. Did you say you were trying to go to heaven today?
Customer: That’s right.
Worker: OK, then. Take the green ticket, and proceed down the corridor to your right. And thanks for flying with us.
Customer: I don’t think you understand what I am asking.
Worker: I’m quite sure I don’t.
Customer: I’m just wondering, if walking down the corridor is so important to go to heaven, why didn’t you tell me to avoid that when telling me about hell?
Worker: I suppose I just assumed a person headed for hell would not be interested in instructions for heaven. But then, you say you are headed for heaven, and you seem inordinately interested in instructions for hell, so maybe my thinking is off a bit today.
Customer: Let me explain why I ask.
Worker: I wish you would.
Customer: I heard about your airline, and I am absolutely interested in going to heaven.
Worker: I don’t blame you.
Customer: And I heard the ticket was already bought and paid for, that it was completely free, that I would not have to do anything to claim it.
Worker: That’s right. It’s our Grace promotion. It’s very popular.
Customer: Yes. But then you said I had to walk down the corridor to get on the plane.
Worker: Yes …
Customer: Well, that means it’s not free. You are requiring me to do something to receive it.
Worker: I suppose you could look at it that way.
Customer: I don’t know how else you could look at it. You promised me a trip to heaven, and that it would be free. And then you ask me to do something. That implies that I don’t get the trip to heaven unless I comply with your requirement to walk down the corridor.
Worker: Well, technically, I mentioned two requirements.
Worker: I said you had to take a green ticket, and then I said you had to walk down the corridor. I noticed you didn’t really object to taking the ticket.
Customer: Well, that’s different.
Worker: How so?
Customer: It just is! And you know it is! Quit trying to confuse the situation.
Worker: Sir, I’m not trying to confuse the situation. I don’t make the rules here at Mark 16:16 Airlines. I just do my best to tell people about them — and for the ones who want to go to heaven, I try to explain them as best I can. I’m still gathering that you are interested in going to heaven; am I right?
Worker: OK, then. Take the green ticket, and proceed down the corridor to the right. And thanks for flying with us.
Customer: It is just infuriating trying to have a conversation with people like you! You just seem determined to make this more complicated than it has to be.
Worker: Funny, I was just thinking the same thing about you.
Customer: Are you suggesting that I can take this green ticket, choose not to go down corridor A, and not get to heaven?
Worker: Sir, is there a problem with the corridor to your right? Are you incapacitated somehow?
Customer: It’s the principle of the thing! If something is free, I want it to be free!
Worker: Sir, have I asked you for anything?
Customer: Yes! You asked me to comply with your arbitrary rules!
Worker: Well, they’re not my rules. And I don’t consider them arbitrary. But be that as it may, my instructions are to advise everyone wishing to go to heaven to take a green ticket and board the plane for heaven waiting at the end of the corridor to your right. Will you be flying with us today or not, sir?
The customer stands for a moment, scratching his head.
Customer: OK, I have another question. What would happen if I took the green ticket, walked down the corridor to the right, got on the plane, then jumped out of the plane in midflight. Would I still get to go to heaven?
The worker closes his eyes and shakes his head slowly.
Worker: Sir, perhaps you would prefer to ride on Acts 2:38 airlines today. I can direct you that way if you like.